Care Bears On Fire Ignite CMJ 2007

October 17th, 2007: As seen on SPIN (PDF)

As expected, day one (Oct. 16) of CMJ 2007 was an overload of talent, thickly spread over hundreds of venues and multiple boroughs throughout the Big Apple. Considering, there’s pretty much no way to rig yourself a concrete schedule; bands go on late thanks to impromptu encores and festival badges don’t guarantee you a spot in the club (we’re shaking our fist at you, Bowery Ballroom). A festivalgoer’s best route is to stick with a showcase and wait for some angry, or extremely happy souls, to pick up their guitars and prove themselves the next buzz. SPIN.com caught up with some hopefuls at Crash Mansion, and they rocked.

Pint-size punkers Care Bears On Fire provided a glimpse of the 12-year-old Brooklyn scene, and, surprisingly, offered one of the more impressive shows of the night. Guitarist/singer Sophie Kasakove proved to be a Joan Jett shredder, belting out uninhibited lyrics about MySpace and zoo animals. And you didn’t have to be one of the many friends of the kids’ parents in attendance to realize that Care Bears On Fire are more than just a gimmick. Though, coincidentally, it was slightly funny the Crash Mansion staff broadcasted the film BIG on the venue’s flatscreens. The trio’s cred was summed up in their second to last track, “Everybody Else,” which hammered out just a few bar chords and drew from the Ramones’ deadpan methodology via anthemic verse, “Don’t want to be like everybody else.” Here’s to that.

Confusingly, the masses cleared for Atlanta emo crusaders Love Takes Flight (Rebirth Is Near); their AFI-brand of pink-faced energy was spot-on and radio ready. The slim crowd didn’t phase the six-piece, while all three guitarists never bled into each other’s sound, and the drummer bludgeoned with furious snare backdrops. It was this tight blur of angst that ironically saw cooler-than-thou fans splayed out along the outskirt benches of the Mansion, for the most part inanimate, as their antithesis unfolded; the band’s frontman engaged Axl Rose-like pose, and pulled screeches deep from his belly, closing off the set with “I Never Knew.”

Next, Williamsburg Brooklyn-based The Beasts of Eden endured the longest set of the night with ten cuts. Blending a kind of Cold War Kids pop with a Wolfmother drawl, the band, notably guitarist Chris Boosahda, offered epic-long chainsaw fills on beastly track, “The Wolves.” SPIN.com took a moment with lead singer, Chris V, to see what kind of Beasts they really are. “Leopards. Because, we’re still a little bit heavy. Not all the time. Kind of creeping up a bit. But when it comes time to pounce, we jump.”

Finally, there was Oppenheimer, a cheery synth and drum duo from Belfast. It was at this moment that the stoners surfaced, toking to the Kraftwerk-meets-Weezer pop. Guitarist Rocky O’Reilly had the sweetest po-go hops, but no one followed suit in the audience. Meanwhile, singer Shaun Robinson, perched atop his drum, ran through comical back-stories on all the tracks, memorably a song about axeman Rocky: “I Don’t Care What Anybody Says About You, I Think You’re Alright,” Rocky belted, his words smothered in bells and moog. The two played minute-long songs — “Major Television Events” — only to tell the crowd that it would be shorter, if not for the fade out. Very honest. Very genuine. Some dude with an air-horn demanded more.

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