Going into the Cstone season this year, I felt as if the fest had run its course. Many of my friends and bands I like had chosen not to go after the gloominess of last year and the rather disappointing schedule for this year. To top it all off, my son, who’s attended every fest with me since 98 when he was 2, was going to be on a school trip in Europe. All the signs pointed to Cstone going out with a whimper. That being said, I wasn’t going to miss the last one and actually they were counting on me a volunteer as well.
Fast forward to a couple weeks before Cstone and a buddy of mine from work learned that he could actually make a couple days of the fest and it would be his first, so that would be cool, showing my beloved Cstone to a newby.
For me, entering the gates year after year brings the feeling of coming home and this year was no different. What I did notice though was the relative lack of music tents and Port-a-potties. Yeah, I said Port-a-potties. See, for the last few years, I’ve been blessed to work with Mountain Man Steve Brown and restock all the Port-a-potties, twice a day. So all you attendees, I was part of the crew keeping Cstone safe for your pooping.
Campsite was a generously donated dual RV spot with prime shade tree near the merch tents, courtesy of the Shevlots from Indianapolis, who are some of the coolest people you could ever meet. To me they epitomize the people I’ve met at Cstone over the years. Strong Christians, friendly, give anything to anyone, always there for a chat, hang out etc. Helps that they kept me fully coffeeinated the last couple years too. On top of that, they have good taste in music, leaning toward metal, but appreciative of punk and hxc, and they brought their daughter up right as she’s like an old-school hxc kid and straightedge.
So, I’ll try to share some of what the fest was like. To get into the right frame of mind, find a spotlight and point it at your head while sitting in your oven with it set to warm. Do this for 5 days and at night just turn the light and heat off. Be sure to fire it all back up at 8am. Now get a bunch of dirt and throw it in a fan pointed at your head for 8 hours or so at a stretch. Ok, so that’s a bit extreme. It was the hottest Cstone I’d attended with temps every day at or near 100. The drought lowered the water level in the pond to the point they couldn’t fill up the tank to water the roads down, so dust was an issue.
So, RJ and I were both there and shared the Camp Shevlot RV sites with a couple guys from the Sons of God MC, a guy named Freedom, and the bass player from Lust Control. Notable others at our site were RJ’s wife Katie and my buddy Ryan. I mention them as they were actively involved in various shenanigans and Ryan was a rookie TP restock guy with me.
As for music, much less competition this year, which meant I had no schedule conflicts which was cool and I had a full schedule every day. Most of the punk/hxc bands played the Underground Stage, while the metal dudes were on the Sacrosanct Stage. “Old people” music was in it’s usual spot on the Gallery Stage, and the main generator stage of note was the Arkansas Stage. So you get the idea, not a lot of stages this year.
Surprises for me included:
- Fight to Die with their aggressive straight up hxc including a cover of Fortunate Son by CCR.
- Rise Into Ruin – good fast metallic hxc with dual vocals, one guy and one girl trading off
- Crush the Enemy – who had some help from Thin Ice members and literally drove up from TX just for their set, arriving in the nick of time. Temps were so brutal that Colten managed to lose his breakfast, lunch, and dinner during their set, but in true hxc fashion, came right back up on stage like it was no big deal.
- Squad 5-0 – Jeff Fortson drove up from Florida to make the fest and recruited some fill-ins to make sure Squad 5-0 could play. They roared through a great set of older material and Jeff was in top comedic form as a frontman. For my money, this was the highlight of the fest. They were that good.
- FBS – last shows with Jose on drums and first Cstone as a 3 piece since Kristen Goes to College. Cool to see one-time fillin Bruce (Thin Ice/Crush the Enemy) join them on stage and pick up bass for a song. Things like that make Cstone special. As one would expect, FBS roared through their set in true Motorhead meets GBH fashion with new songs sounding really strong.
- Grave Robber – just had one set this year, and it was the big event one at night, complete with blood cannons. Funny to hear Wretched joke about not being invited back next year…
- Crashdog – reunion set with Spike on vocals doing songs from his time as frontman.
- Flatfoot 56 – only did their “event” show, this year a Pool Party. They pulled out all stops and had a water slide, lifeguard tower, surfing, swimming races, and sprinklers on the tent poles. Music-wise they went through some new stuff that was well-received and the old standbys. Tons of hot, steamy, sweaty, muddy fun. Luckily, some small red, liquid-filled balloons didn’t find me, others not so lucky.
Others of Note (not punk/hxc)
- Behold the Kingdom – they get mention as one of the few metal bands approved by Mike Liberty (who wasn’t there, incidentally). Their set on the Sacrosanct stage was truly impressive in a metal sort of way. Vocalist Joe was the metal celebrity and did some guest vocals for other bands including the Burial. The difference a year makes was amazing, these guys have come into their own since last year.
- A Hill to Die Upon – Apparently had some member issues but gave an impressive performance as a two piece, just drums and guitar.
- Children 18:3 – almost punk? Awesome set with crazy energy and less drum solos than expected (only a short one at the end).
- Sean Michel – Bluesman from Arkansas who’s run the Arkansas Stage the last few years. He was actually a contestant on American Idol and made it to Hollywood (season 6 or 7), even though his appearance scared the judges. I listened for about half a song and could tell he was the real deal. Cool stuff, including a cover of the Johnny Cash song, “Gods’ Gonna Cut You Down”.
Just like every year, there are all those times between bands that make Cstone truly special. This year, it included things like: goofing on “Biebercore” bands, miscellaneous mischief, preparing for miscellaneous mischief, wandering around the grounds in a state of near heat-stroke, pondering the origins of meat given to you by a sketchy guy from Iowa, ultra-high speed runs down a ski slope type hill in a golf cart, endless trips to get water, and just sitting around in fellowship with people you’ve never met before.
In the end, while attendance this year was the least ever (possibly) and bands the fewest, this Cstone had everything I’ve come to love, expect, and need from the fest every year. The presence of the Holy Spirit was evident everywhere I went and really, that’s what I need.
Video below “Cornerstone 2012” Recap