About a month ago, my friend Buz sent me a video of a band made up from the robots from Transformers the Movie (1986), covering Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. I thought to myself, that would have been great to see that when it came out in the 80’s, so I had to look up who the performers were. It is, (not was), a band from Canada known as the Cybertonic Spree, and they are currently touring, with a stop just two hours away at the House of Blues in Cleveland. As soon as I could, I contacted them and made arrangements to photograph and interview them.
The opener rapped on the spot about pop culture from the attire the fans were wearing and was just as entertaining and witty as the Spree. Hearing it for the first time, much of it went over the audience’s heads, but when they caught on to it, there was an uproar of laughter. My favorite was Narc hi-score (in Nintendo Power), where he explained his trials of getting the games first hi score in the 80s. Then, finally reaching his goal, which was beat the very next issue.
They were meticulous in their knowledge of retro 80’s nostalgia and everything I grew up knowing as a kid. They evoked a new smile with every old song they offered. Even those songs I had no affinity toward were enjoyable now.
Each robot entered the stage individually — Hot Rod with a jump kick. Soundwave danced around the stage, delivering amusement and tee shirts to the audience. Unicron commanded attention for his guitar riffs. The Quintesson passed judgement on all who would be too cool to enjoy the show. Rumble kept the beats steady. Arcee and Hot Rod share the vocal responsibilities. And with the claim that encores are too inefficient for robots, they powered down onstage until the crowd made enough noise.
For the Cybertronic Spree to exist legally, they have to do so as a parody, so they have to keep things light. For that reason, their music can mostly be found as videos on youtube. There’s even a part in the interview where they have to respond to my questions appropriately. It is unfortunate that many of the songs they cover are for nostalgia and below their talent level.
Although, the Cybertronic Spree’s versions were better than some of the originals performed live, it was with their original content that you could realize their range and skill. They have been receiving requests from loyal fans to create more original content, but their entire performance is their art form. Until they create more original music, you won’t find much more than a single on Spotify.
This wasn’t a crowd of 40-year-old men. There were plenty of boys and girls from differing generations there to see them. The Cybertronic Spree is for anyone who isn’t too cool to have fun. On their FB page it states, “We perform the soundtrack from our 1986 documentary, The Transformers: The Movie. Also, we are Transformers.” Hair metal isn’t my music. The past few days, I’ve been spamming these songs. Not for the nostalgia of the 80s, but from the night I drove to Cleveland to see the Cybrtonic Spree.