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The Spin was pleasantly stunned to see a monstrous turnout for How I Became the Bomb and KinderCastle's tribute to Out of the Blue when we rolled up on Mercy Lounge Friday evening. The unmistakable chorus of "Turn to Stone" rang through Cannery Row as we joined dozens of others awaiting entry on the steps beneath an enormous ELO banner. Once we finally filed in, we were a little taken aback to see not only the usual Mercy patrons and a few gussied-up bros and femmebros, but also scores of septuagenarians seated on stools, their heads a sea of bobbing blue hair, their orthopedic shoes tapping as they mouthed every word.
We'd had our doubts that locals HIBtB and KinderCastle could pull off the undeniably daunting task of recreating Jeff Lynne's magnum opus--especially considering reports we'd heard that the megagroup was seeking a rehearsal space awfully late in the game--but our cynical traps were smacked shut the moment we heard their seven-piece string section launch into the intro for "Sweet Talkin' Woman." Besides, it turns out that the 15-member ensemble had been practicing somewhere in the neighborhood of six hours a day for two weeks straight.
Lead vocal duties were split between KinderCastle's Cody Uhler and Bomb frontman Jon Burr, whose sweat-drenched suit and expression of sheer ecstasy betrayed his distinct passion for this record. "Jungle" was an all-out, hooting, stomping party with the appropriate amount of sundry percussion and madness. With all eight onstage players dapperly clad in vintage suits--the string section was set up in the stage-left wings--How I Bombed the KinderCastle Out of the Blue tore through the album's four sides with confidence and authority, stopping only once for a brief intermission.
For a handful of songs in which a slightly robotic voice modification is absolutely key ("Mr. Blue Sky," for instance), Burr utilized Emiglio--the iconic remote-controlled robot many a reader will no doubt recall from their childhoods. This of course elicited riotous shouts of approval, cementing Emiglio as one of the evening's standout stars, second only to the hair of hired-gun guitarist and Lake Fever honcho John Baldwin, who was pompadourless for possibly the first time in his entire public life.
Fact of the matter is, The Spin even forwent our typically frequent smoke breaks--and general lapses of attention--because we were genuinely rapt. The closing strains of "Wild West Hero" concluded before 11:30, and with no encore the whole scene quickly transformed into a relatively impromptu Michael Jackson memorial dance party. And, seeing as how we intended to spend--more or less--the remainder of our weekend and our funds at Mercy, we opted to slip out and save our serious drinking for Saturday night.