Monday, October 30, 1995
Simi Valley, CA
Typed in by Barbara Germany.
by Jennifer Hanrahan
Daily News Staff Writer
The lead singer turned somersaults while the fans moshed and banged heads - just like old times. The atmosphere at Friday night's Oingo Boingo concert at the Universal Amphitheater was so ebullient, that fans almost forgot the group was saying goodbye.
After 17 years, Oingo Boingo, a Southern California alternative-music tradition, is calling it quits on Halloween. During the first of four sold-out concerts planned for Universal City, the band, called simply Boingo by followers, played for three hours Friday with the frenetic energy that fans have come to expect.
Lead singer Danny Elfman was having a genuinely good time, even as he sang such angst-ridden songs as "No Spill Blood".
"Who makes the rules?" Elfman cried out.
"Someone else!" screamed the audience members, most of whom spent the concert on their feet, dancing.
Elfman showed his gratitude again and again.
"I'd like to thank you for supporting us all these years, defying all the odds and keeping us around for so many years, having so much fun," Elfman said.
Never big nationally, the band was created in the late '70s from a traveling performance art troupe called Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. It was Elfman's brother, Rick, who convinced him to join.
Oingo Boingo's music, which uses horns, xylophones and synthesizers to create a punky fusion of ska, reggae and West African beats, inspired a cult following in Southern California when disc jockey Jed the Fish heavily played the single "Only a Lad" on KROQ-FM (106.7). The annual Halloween shows, where band members and fans wear costumes, have since become a tradition.
Fans Jeff Belanger, 26, and Ron Brunn, 25, both of Redlands, said they've attended least 90 shows since they first heard the band 15 years ago. At Friday's concert, they danced and waved license plates that read "LV OINGO" and "OINGO 4 U." Both plates have been signed by the band members.
Still, the two men couldn't help feeling a little sad. "This night, it's like breaking up a marriage," said Belanger, who paid a broker $250 for a ticket to the final concert Tuesday. "but they're going out on a good note."
Some fans said they understand the band's desire to move on to new musical endeavors. Elfman already is one of the busiest orchestral composers in the movie world, having written the scores for such movies as "Dead Presidents" and "To Die For," as well as the theme music for Fox TV's "The Simpsons." Guitarist Steve Bartek has also orchestrated for films, while bass player John Avila is producing records for other acts and drummer Johnny Hernandez is hooking up with a jazz trio.
"If it's best for them, I guess that's what they have to do," said Deanna Terry, 24, of Canoga Park. "I'll always have their tapes and CDs."
Midway though the show, Elfman played a set of softer songs, including "We Close Our Eyes" and characteristically told the audience to take a break and go get a beer.
The fans, although heavy in teenage boys, span all ages.
"We like every bit of the music," said Janie Gottesman of Studio City, who attended the show wearing an Oingo Boingo T-shirt with her husband and two children, Eric, 15, and Andrew, 9.
The band played obscure songs fans hadn't heard live since the early days and Elfman challenged fans to see if they could remember the names (they couldn't).
By the sounds of some of the tunes, maybe it would have been better if they had remained a part of the past. But what the heck. It was for old time's sake.
Gloria Franklin, 31, of Costa Mesa remembered hearing "Private Life" in her math class in 1982.
"It talks about a person who feels like he's completely isolated, like he doesn't fit in anywhere, said Franklin. "I finally connected to some music."