Even though I was already in my mid-30s when Oingo Boingo disbanded after a series of Halloween shows at the Universal Amphitheater in 1995, I was too young for it to end. I wasn’t ready to let go.
Boingo’s quirky rhythms and manic guitar- and horn-based sound, coupled with Danny Elfman’s darkly hysterical lyrics, provided a stellar soundtrack for much of my youth. There are few memories from my twenties more lasting than the Halloween concerts at Irvine Meadows that I shared with 18,000 of my closest costumed friends.
But nothing truly great ever seems to stick around.
By the mid-1990s Elfman was doing quite nicely for himself scoring the music for every blockbuster to come out of Hollywood (or so it seemed). He also developed a hearing condition that forced a career change away from rock stardom. So the band simply folded up their tents and went their separate ways.
I have mostly dealt with it the past 15 years, but every once in awhile I still crave a live Boingo fix. Enter Dead Man’s Party which, to my knowledge, is the only Oingo Boingo tribute band on planet Earth.
DMP has been around for about a decade now and performs mostly around their lead singer Rob Elfaizy’s base in Orange County. Elfaizy, like Elfman back in the day, sings and plays numerous instruments, including an African version of the xylophone during Grey Matter.
I hadn’t seen DMP play since 2002 when I brought former Boingo drummer Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez to sit in during one of their shows as part of a never-completed project I was working on at the time called Interview With the Part-Time Vampire. My friend Renard and I cut a video from that show that you can watch here.
I drove my family to Ventura last Saturday night to see DMP perform. The Ventura Theater was an appropriate venue for a quasi-Boingo show since it’s been reported that a headless ghost has been seen performing on stage there from time to time.
Elfaizy and the rest of DMP are solid musicians, and everyone in the crowd had a great time, including an enthusiastic group of women on vacation from England who discovered Boingo in film school by watching Danny’s brother Richard Elfman’s movie The Forbidden Zone. (It’s astounding to learn there are Oingo Boingo fans across the pond. Boingo was a Southern California phenomenon and the lion’s share of their fans reside west of Vegas.)
Many people feel that watching a tribute band is akin to buying a knock-off Rolex, and I guess it is in a way. But it’s also a place for a scattered tribe to re-gather.
On Saturday night, a group of Boingo fans got together to remember lots of happy moments, and to send out a collective plea through our involuntary gyrations that said, “Hey Danny, do you think Tim Burton would let us borrow you for a Boingo reunion? Halloween’s coming up. Whaddya say?”