Junior Circuit

There exists a world much like our own where emo pop-punk acts reign supreme over the Dallas music scene

It was sickeningly sweet. Seeing high school girls swoon at the all-too-practiced rock star poses and off-pitch sounds of these just-formed rock star dreamers was a little off-putting. And, of course, it reeked of naïveté.

Even The Door's booking manager, Joel Furth, sees it to an extent.

"For the underage crowd," he says, "it's really just a scene. Kids get into it, and their friends get into it. So they do it too."

But what Furth also notes is that the bands being booked to these shows at least seem serious about what they do: "They're trying to make it big," he says with a shrug. And, perhaps more so than in most genres in town, they're feeling a glimpse of the stardom spotlight because of the way these teenage fans treat them.

It's enviable, Furth says: "Bands that play The Prophet Bar [the 21-plus other half of The Door's complex] are always coming up to me and saying, 'We wanna get that crowd.'"

And yet, for the bands that eventually graduate from playing a packed Door to performing at a near-empty Prophet Bar once their musical tastes expand, it's a lesson in the harsh realities of making music one's career.

Austin Brown of Austin Brown Sounds, whose band was performing at The Prophet Bar on the same night as The Door's celebration, was once a player in The Door's scene; he's quite familiar with it. And when his musical tastes expanded into a funk-based indie rock sound, Brown says his once-upon-a-time fairly large following all but deserted him.

"I had to find a whole new audience," he says. Chances are, for most of the bands currently performing in this scene, that's the upcoming reality they'll have to face.

For now, though, as their dreams of pop superstardom still ring true, there are worse arenas in which these musicians could cut their teeth—I mean, they could be getting booed off The Double Wide's stage, right? At least they're developing a stage presence (if all of these bands have one thing going for them, it was their ability to keep one's visual attention), and they genuinely seem to be having some fun.

(Oh, and to their credit, they weren't all terrible. Kessler, for one, has pop radio potential, and Fatal Formality, despite all its nauseating God-talk, consisted of a fairly talented teenage crew.)

But when reality sets in—the foolproof formula fails and, as The Lash Outs sing, "the kids don't dance no more" to their music—you have to wonder if these bands, too, will start to "feel a little sore" about this scene. You have to wonder if—when the crowds are only in attendance for the scene and not for the love of the music, when these bands start realizing that there are only so many similarly stylized acts major labels will sign to a deal, when their own musical tastes change slightly—they're just being set up for a terrifying, earth-crashing fall.

Unless, of course, that bizarro world is the real one. In that case, we're all screwed.

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