Throwin' the goat for Jesus

Drew McDowell

They scream, jump around on stage and encourage their fans to “destroy everything” in the mosh pit.

Oh, and if you didn’t realize, they’re Christian.

It’s easier to tell with some bands than others at Cornerstone Festival.

It can be so hard to tell, for example, the first “frequently asked question” on Demon Hunter’s Web site is: Are you guys really a Christian band?

You wouldn’t say some bands are “more Christian” than their fellow religious rockers, but some display their faith differently than others.

Some Cornerstone groups don’t even consider themselves Christian bands – some of their members just happen to be religious.

“Some of the bands are more openly proclaiming their faith in their music, from their talking on stage, but a lot of the artists at Cornerstone are just general-market artists,” said festival director John Herrin. “They’re on regular secular record labels – their CDs are available at Best Buy and Wal-Mart. But they feel comfortable at Cornerstone.”

Not all of the members of the South Bend, Ind., band Doctor!Doctor! are religious, but they all share the same values. Religion is part of the foursome’s message — but not the only part.

“We can reach kids through not strictly religion. We can reach kids without pushing it in their faces,” said vocalist Piper Williams.

For some bands, their faith is on display, front and center.

Pull of Gravity sings about God and discusses Christianity between songs.

The group didn’t travel to Cornerstone from Charlotte, N.C., to get noticed or land a record deal, but to “lift up Christ,” said vocalist Justin Baucom.

Lyrically, for some Cornerstone bands, it’s not what they say — it’s what they don’t say.

“You obviously aren’t gonna be representing God if you’re using a bunch of profanity or getting drunk all the time,” said Luke Humberd, who plays bass for Darkroom, a Warsaw, Ind., band.

While Christian music can fall into a category of its own, it’s not necessarily a genre. Cornerstone showcases several genres.

A good chunk of the acts play metalcore — a brand of heavy metal featuring chugging guitars and growling vocals. Not what you’d hear on a Sunday morning.

In fact, most people associate heavy metal with skulls, blood-dripping logos and even Satan.

But you don’t have to be evil to sound evil.

“Just because you’re heavy you don’t have to be all mean and stuff, and negative,” said Mike Heidenreich, vocalist for the St. Louis band Awaiting the Desire.

Drew McDowell can be reached at (309) 686-3253 or