Written by Samuel Barker
Sep 16, 2002 at 08:00 PM
ImageWhen El Paso rockers At The Drive In called it quits, Texas punk experienced a huge loss, as did the entire music scene. Since that time, the band has reemerged as two new bands, The Mars Volta and tonight’s opener, Sparta.

Former guitarist Jim Ward has taken over on vocal duties for Sparta, as well as holding his place as guitarist. Combined the other ATDI alums, guitarist Paul Hinojos and drummer Tony Hajjar, Ward and Sparta have enjoyed riding the wave left from the buzz over ATDI when they split.

Opening with Sans Cosm, Sparta quickly pulled the audience into a trance with their progressive rock/emo sounds. Ward’s lyrics make it a bit easier for the audience to relate and sing along, which pleased those ATDI fans who had a hard time keeping up with ATDI vocalist Cedric Bixler’s complicated rants.

In a shroud of darkness for most of the set, the sadness of songs like Glasshouse Tarot washed over the audience and left some emotionally drained.

Not to leave on a down note, the band played the remainder of their set in bright flood lights leaving with the tandem of Cut Your Ribbon and Air. These songs saw Ward and company reach their maximum intensity. The band looked absolutely spent as the house lights came up and they retreated backstage.

Sparta left very little on the stage after their set and left a hard act for Jimmy Eat World to follow.

After playing a short set consisting of new songs from Bleed American on the Pop Disaster Tour’s stop at the Woodlands, Jimmy Eat World was ready to go back to where they came from, playing a set heavier in older favorites than new songs.

Setting the stage up with a few area rugs and some oriental paper lanterns, the stage felt more like seeing your friend’s little brother’s band in their backyard than watching a major label band.

This feeling from the set combined with the low key feel of the set, led many people to head to the exits, not wanting to lose the impact from Sparta’s emotionally charged set. Those who stayed were given a treat of hearing all the songs from the days when Jimmy Eat World was in a van, playing clubs to a handful of people.

A walk down memory lane was nice, but Sparta set the bar too high for Jimmy Eat World to reach. Substance will beat nostalgia every time.