14 November 2007

Review: Care Bears on Fire|Children of the Unicorn

Southpaw, Brooklyn|Blender Theater 9 November 2007

Had an interesting Friday night. Two opening bands, in some ways completely different from each other and in other ways very similar. They were two of the most self-aware musical acts I've seen in a while. And they both love to rock.

The first stop was for Care Bears on Fire in Brooklyn. They're a power trio for the tweener set: three middle school aged kids rocking out on guitar, bass and drums. In a way, it's just a gimmick, yes, but if you're going to go with that slant, you should at least have a killer name (check) and you should rock the casbah, legit... which they do their best job to do. The sound is kinda garage/Brit-punk with a threesome in various stages of their growth spurts: girl guitarist who has some legitimate prepubescent chops, a girl drummer who is a little spastic as all drummers should be, but maybe to the point where she's not keeping time as well as she should, and a near-stoic, lanky big bird of a bass player who will have a long career as a rock bassist based on looks alone. Their songs were a lot of fun -- "I met you on myspace... but you were a unicorn." Like I said, a little too self-aware, with one song, "Baby Animals" starting off all kid-like "I like puppies... I like kittens..." and then flipping over into a thrashy metalesque shred. The guitarist seems to have the front woman vibe inside her, though, occasionally getting seriously pyrotechnic on her Gibson and channeling a Brit-rock accent in her vocals. The crowd was a nice mix -- I simultaneously felt very old and very young with the 8th grade contingent and their parents. The biggest disappointment of the night was the fact that hardly any of the kids were dancing or rocking out. If you're already disaffected and inhibited at 12 what kind of future holds for rock and roll??

The postmodern tilt was in full gear later at the Blender where I was ostensibly there to see Rose Hill Drive again, but was sure to get there early for Children of the Unicorn. It wasn't quite Spinal Tap, but it was a hilarious combination of pretending to be a cheesy homosexual-undertoned metal band and actually being that band in its full glory. The songs were ridiculous on title alone: "Fire in Your Pants" anyone? Each song seemed to up the previous in absurdity... "this is a song about a shark... at night... it's called 'Night Shark.'" But, hey, let's face it, they totally rocked it, even to a sparse crowd who was more in tune with the power blues rock of RHD. OTW hero Jake was brilliantly ridiculous as the tambourine/cowbell/air guitar man -- each song he took off a t-shirt revealing another perfectly off-color Rocks Off innovation (e.g. "I gay men... because I hate kids") until the end when he was forced to go bare chested having run out of shirts. The only thing this band lacked was pyrotechnics, smoke machines and strobe lights to flesh out the blazing guitars and throbbing metal rhythm. Fun, fun, funny.

I am sad to say that I reached my limit shortly after those guys left the stage and made the decision to pack it in well before Rose Hill hit the stage. Seen 'em twice already this year and felt a raging headache coming on... alas!

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