SnoCore 2003, featuring Sparta, Glassjaw, Hot Water Music and Dredg 

Thursday, March 6; Mississippi Nights

When At the Drive-In broke up in 2001, they may have doomed themselves to one-semihit-wonder status, which is too bad: Their 2000 album Relationship of Command put them in a position to bring their ass-kicking emocore sound to the mainstream, which could have paved the way for bands such as Thursday and ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. Instead, ATDI broke up, nü-metal continued its reign and the Beastie Boy-owned Grand Royal label folded after losing its top-selling band.

None of that is really ATDI's fault, but all the history does raise interest in Sparta, which contains three former ATDI members: vocalist/guitarist Jim Ward, guitarist Paul Hinojos and drummer Tony Hajjar. And the interest is justified: Sparta shares the same throttled propulsion and screaming vocals that pulverized ATDI fans. Although Sparta doesn't merely recycle the older band's style, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. This continuity helps explain Sparta's choice spot on the SnoCore festival's roster and its upcoming opening slot for Pearl Jam.

Meanwhile, Mars Volta -- which features ATDI members Cedrix Bixler and Omar Rodriguez -- labors in relative obscurity. Only time will tell which of the two bands (if either) will live up to early buzz. Leave that to the overbearing music writers of the future. But one thing is certain -- with Sparta in attendance at this year's SnoCore Festival, fans who bring their asses with them will have them firmly kicked.

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