It's not a Tuesday night thing
Don't go buying bingo tickets; that's different.
by Anabella Wewer
Well, it's been 17 years, and the band is calling it quits. Not
much more to tell; that's the whole story. Danny Elfman realized
a few weeks ago that the the band has been around 16 years longer
than he thought it would, and it's time to quit. So they are -- and
they're not just disappearing into the woodwork; they're saying goodbye
at the last of their fabled Halloween concerts.
So what band, you say? I have a feeling that when I tell you,
some of you will have been mourning for weeks, and some others won't
have a clue who that is. It seems to be that way with Boingo -- they
have fans that will travel across the country to see one of their very
rare concerts, and beg and plead for any bootlegs and blurry
pictures that anyone may have, while everyone else looks at those of us
in the know with that questioning look -- "What is a
I actually understand how either one of those could happen. I've been
there. It was about a year and a half ago when I started dating my
current boyfriend. We were in those initial stages -- you
know, the first time having dinner at my house, him checking out my
book and record collection, figuring me out -- so I
apologetically went for the Open button on the CD player to change
The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack I had been, up until
he rang the bell, loudly and uninhibitedly singing along to. I had
been doing that for six months (not continuously). "No, that's OK,
I like that album," he said, with this sparkle in his eyes.
"So you like Boingo too, huh?"
"Boingo?" I said.
"You know, Danny!"
"Danny?" This was just bad... but he just pointed at the back of the
CD and the next time around brought me four CDs that I have never
stopped listening to. And I am trying to figure out how to
manage the trip to California for their final tour.
Describing Boingo's music is not an easy thing to do. Its description
might actually scare some people away. The lyrics, largely composed by
Danny Elfman, are often macabre, somewhat dark, sometimes pessimistic,
most times soulful and passionate, always grabbing you from the inside
-- if you let them. But though the lyrics are a large chunk of it, it
is the music that sets them apart and probably has prevented them from
ever being a top 40 band. It is a strange experience to realize that if
the lyrics in a rock song weren't there, the song would still be good.
Steve Bartek, John Avila and John "Vatos" Hernandez have been at the
core of Boingo (formerly The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo, then Oingo
Boingo, now Boingo, and soon gone) for most of the 17 years,
with a myriad of musicians rounding out the band, including the
legendary horn section (ask any Boingo fan, even the latecomers like
me, and you'll understand), who are coming back for the farewell tour.
Something they do together makes up that very definitive "Boingo
once you know it, even if you've never heard a particular song
before, you recognize it as a Boingo song in less than ten
notes. Still, Danny stands out. It's not quite like it's Danny and his
backup band -- Boingo is very much an entity all its
own -- but Danny Elfman probably will be a familiar name
to most people as time goes on,
something Boingo never was or will be.
I once had to admit that Danny is better than Bono, Peter Gabriel or
Sting -- not an easy thing for me to do. Maybe not a better singer
(Peter's up there on that one) or performer (both Bono and Peter have
the upper hand), but just better as a musician. I had to sit and think
about that one for a while... Peter is a music writer, Bono
is too, and Sting, but Danny is a composer. I thought it was terribly
when Danny was invited to conduct a symphony orchestra some time last
year. You'd have to be a good composer to even attempt that. Sorry
Peter. I love you, but you couldn't pull that one off.
Anyway, some people have heard Danny's name in connection with a
of movie soundtracks and television theme songs -- and
they will, more
and more, with the new turn of events, but most people still will look
at you funny when you ask if they know Boingo. There isn't much time
left. They sound like they really mean it; it'll just be records in the
racks soon (and hopefully a video? Please, Danny, please?). So get out
there, demand that your favorite record store order some, if not all,
of the titles for you, and give them a shot. You'll be hooked. And if
you're really lucky, they'll add some dates to the farewell tour.
(Tickets went on sale already for most of them, and they do have a lot
of faithful fans...) Keep an eye on the other guys too; they're all
part of different bands, and they're all bound to be very good. For the
rest of us, there will always be
and well, I guess it was time
to change, to grow -- it won't be the same without them, but the guys
will still be around. It'll just be different.