Josh and I both enjoyed attending Cornerstone Music Festival when we were teenagers. (While we didn’t meet at the fest, love for the same bands may have had something to do with us getting married!) Audiofeed Festival, which just completed its fourth year, is the “reboot” that began after Cornerstone ended in 2012. We’ve attended every year, and have enjoyed watching this small music festival grow into something beautiful.
This was Audiofeed’s fourth year and this lineup was probably the best one yet. Friday was Humble Best Night featuring hip-hop from Beautiful Eulogy and Propaganda. Saturday was Bad Christian Night featuring a live recording of the Bad Christian Podcast and Emery playing The Question in its entirety chronologically. (This was a bigger deal for Josh than it was for me, but I liked the energy of the show.) Josh Garrels closed out the festival on Sunday with his smooth vocals and poetic lyrics. We stood in the very front, holding our sleeping kids, and singing every lyric.
I know I get all cheesy and mushy when it comes to this festival. But there were various instances throughout the week when I felt the magic of being in the right place at the right time. It felt like community. It felt like these were my people and I had found my place in the world.
Josh and I have taken Malachi to this festival since he was three months old. Raising our kids around this music feels like coming full-circle. I don’t know how many times Josh and I saw kiddos with big noise-canceling headphones at Cornerstone and looked at each other and thought “someday.” It’s always cool when “someday” actually happens.
It’s definitely a bit of a challenge taking a toddler and a baby to an outdoor festival, sleeping in a tent, and not having a concrete schedule. It’s a challenge when your kids won’t sleep in the tent and have to be worn or carried for every nap. But it was worth it! I feel like the reward of bringing children along on these types of experiences more than outweighs the extra effort it takes. We’ve learned a few tricks through the years.
- Wear the baby. They’ll fall asleep and you can stay out as late as you want. You can also stand a lot closer with a carrier than you can with a stroller.
- Always have plenty of water and snacks. Your kids might eat more snack-y processed things than they would at home, but it’s not the end of the world.
- Accept the fact that you aren’t going to sleep much so you’re less resentful when the kids wake up at 5:30 am.
- Take lots of pictures so you can watch them grow with the fest, and bask in the joy after the exhaustion has worn off.
While the music is fantastic, I also really enjoy people watching at this festival. So many different types of individuals attend. In spite of all the different influences, one thread runs consistently through all the bands, attendees, and volunteers – the thread of community. It’s pretty incredible how so many people from all over the country and overseas can be so united.
This year I noticed how hard it can be to connect with everyone I want to connect with, since the festival simply isn’t long enough. Every year I make new friends and want to catch up. Every year, I come away full, but wishing I’d had more time with them. Every year, it feels like I see less and less music because I’m caught up talking to folks. But that’s okay. It’s a fantastic “problem” to miss a show or two because community was happening.
I feel the same way about the house shows we host in our home. The music is great, but it is mostly just an excuse to get together. Whatever brings people together, be it music or food or a movie or art, isn’t the thing. What is “the thing?” My friend Kevin, a musician at the fest, said it well.
I think the nature of what we do leads fairly naturally to a lingering questioning of the degree to which people care about/for you. Sometimes, the work you do can seem to go unnoticed and the love you pour out can seemingly fail to return to you.
These feelings, I think, are true but not in the way we tend to think. In reality, people have a limited capacity to care for one another. We use one another to make ourselves feel good/safe. We don’t intend to, but we do.
Also in reality, God created us for community. The intimacy we can feel with one another should never be the thing we chase but rather point us to community with God.
This weekend I felt incredibly well loved by people that will inevitably let me down as I will them. However, I was also spurred on towards greater intimacy with God by this failing love we share with one another. Community is not the thing, it points to the thing, and this weekend at Audiofeed pointed so clearly to it. Let us not give up meeting together.
We are incredibly blessed to be part of this family, this imperfect family who loves and embraces one another in spite of their imperfections. This year I came away physically exhausted and slept over 12 hours straight upon returning home. But I was completely overwhelmed and refreshed by the Holy Spirit.
The last day of the festival we went to a church service at the Anchor stage and God re-affirmed the call on my life to slow down and be present. The preacher reminded us of the story of Mary and Martha hosting Jesus. He challenged those who relate more to Mary, to step up and find ways to serve in their churches and communities. And he reminded those who, like me, relate more to Martha, to relax and sit at the feet of Jesus occasionally. Quitting my job was a big step in this direction, but even daily life without a paying job can be rigorous and highly-scheduled. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Other random highlights of the festival were chopping veggies in the Road Dog Cafe with old and new friends, seeing Kevin (mentioned above) play with a full band to a crowd of friends from all over the country that he helped bring together, watching Josh play accordion in Insomniac Folklore, seeing Malachi get slaphappy and invent a game called “potato ball” by throwing a potato around and laughing, getting to see my parents and my brothers and my sisters all in one place, sharing chili with some sweet folks who invited us to their camper, shopping the generous “free pile” at the Asylum, drinking coffee in the early morning rain, watching my boys play with a dollhouse under a shelter house, completely unaware and unafraid of the storm around us, encouraging a new friend in the ladies room, serving breakfast to musicians after drinking way too much coffee and irritating them with my chipper comments too early in the morning…. You get the idea… That’s enough for now!
See you next year, Audiofeed!