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Care Bears On Fire Ignite CMJ 2007

NEW YORK: Emo southerners Love Takes Flight, Irish electro-pop geeks Oppenheimer, and more invade Crash Mansion on day one.

As expected, day one (Oct. 16) of CMJ 2007 was an overload oftalent, thickly spread over hundreds of venues and multiple boroughsthroughout the Big Apple. Considering, there’s pretty much no way torig yourself a concrete schedule; bands go on late thanks to impromptuencores and festival badges don’t guarantee you a spot in the club(we’re shaking our fist at you, Bowery Ballroom). A festivalgoer’s bestroute is to stick with a showcase and wait for some angry, or extremelyhappy souls, to pick up their guitars and prove themselves the nextbuzz. SPIN.com caught up with some hopefuls at Crash Mansion, and theyrocked.

Pint-size punkers Care Bears On Fire provided aglimpse of the 12-year-old Brooklyn scene, and, surprisingly, offeredone of the more impressive shows of the night. Guitarist/singer SophieKasakove proved to be a Joan Jett shredder, belting out uninhibitedlyrics about MySpace and zoo animals. And you didn’t have to be one ofthe many friends of the kids’ parents in attendance to realize thatCare Bears On Fire are more than just a gimmick. Though,coincidentally, it was slightly funny the Crash Mansion staffbroadcasted the film BIG on the venue’s flatscreens. The trio’scred 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 likeeverybody 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. Theslim crowd didn’t phase the six-piece, while all three guitarists neverbled into each other’s sound, and the drummer bludgeoned with furioussnare backdrops. It was this tight blur of angst that ironically sawcooler-than-thou fans splayed out along the outskirt benches of theMansion, for the most part inanimate, as their antithesis unfolded; theband’s frontman engaged Axl Rose-like pose, and pulled screeches deepfrom his belly, closing off the set with “I Never Knew.”

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

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