Let me clear up a bias: I distrust the Dallas Music Festival. Bands compete with each other by selling tickets to earn high-profile time slots, and that, along with a lack of quality headliners (Drowning Pool, despite selling out, does not count), instantly puts a stink on the affair. But I attended the Saturday afternoon showcase at the Gypsy Ballroom to challenge my theories. The showcase is a reward for bands that sold the most $15 festival tickets; they land a spot opening for Drowning Pool on Saturday night and a mini-set at this sparsely attended afternoon concert for label executives (no word on which ones, if any, were actually listening). Skyline's End opened with textbook emo that resembled Yellowcard without the violin or talent. Singer-bassist Chris Spinks boosted the generic sound with a radio-ready voice and loads of charisma, and if he were smart, he'd leave his tone-deaf bandmates and join another group at the showcase, Front Runner. The Denton quartet built upon the emo foundation of Jimmy Eat World, fitting discordant guitars and superb bass lines into an extremely catchy formula, but guitarist Rob Sutherland was too timid a singer. Give Spinks a call, guys. After those so-so shows--which included the lousy, Creed-meets-hair-metal stylings of Strangleweed--I was ready to leave with my bias intact when I happened into the Tea Room, where Bowie, Texas' Autumn Silence finished the afternoon with a wallop. Pint-size lead screamer Chase Robbins sounded like he was choking on Satan as he bellowed over his band's sharp emo-core assault, and his voice turned from screams to crooning in impressive fashion. I wish Robbins had sung a bit more, but otherwise, Autumn Silence's out-there metal was intense and interesting enough to shut me up. For a few minutes.
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