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Most people enter the music industry looking to make a name for themselves in a band, or maybe as a solo artist. Some are even able to branch out past their band and grow an additional following through a different musical avenue or even through a different medium. However, very few achieve cross platform success, as well as household name recognition like Danny Elfman. The man has fronted a massively popular 80s new wave band with Oingo Boingo, masterfully composed some of the most iconic movie scores, and influenced a countless number of people throughout the decades. The man recently celebrated his 70th birthday, and he’s invited all of us to his birthday party. Dubbed From Oingo to Batman to Big Mess and Beyond, Danny Elfman came to the Irvine FivePoint Amphitheatre with a goal to not just put on a concert, but to put on a multi layered show for his fans.

Opening the night was an electronic music group from Georgia known as Boy Harsher. Fronted by Jae Matthews, who haunting vocals creeped into each person’s ears, and echoed around their brain cage. Backed by producer and programmer Augustus Muller. Muller felt like he had four arms coming out of him, as he jumped between his soundboard, computer, drum board, and woodwind type instruments. Boy Harsher brought a dance vibe with them, playing an electropop/dark wave mix that I could hear playing at some of my favorite goth clubs. People were clearly vibing with the band, as you could find people dancing in their seats through the venue. Playing songs like “Keep Driving,” “Give Me a Reason,” “Fate,” “Westerners,” “Come Closer,” “Tower,” “Tears,” “LA,” and ending with “Modulations.” Boy Harsher put on a solid set as musicians. Though I feel they could benefit from a bit more production visuals. Something to help elevate the feeling you get from listening to their music.

As everyone packed into the FivePoint Amphitheatre waiting to see the man whose music has defined so many people’s aesthetic and style, many fans came dressed in costumes. From variations on Jack Skellington and Sally, to Pee Wee Herman (RIP), and anything & everything skeleton themed. These fans new the assignment for how to dress to a Danny Elfman show.

As Danny Elfman walked on stage and lights hit the stage, Elfman packed the stage with musicians. From a traditional band with guitars, bass, and drums, to two percussionists, and a full orchestra lining the back of stage. As some one who has not seen a Danny Elfman show before, I was elated to see that this was not going to be a traditional concert experience. Elfman began the show by stripping his shirt off to reveal a body that you would not expect a 70-year-old to have. Yet, Elfman was changing instruments and interpretive dancing throughout the entire show. The man felt like a boundless ball of energy and the crowd kept feeding that energy back to him. Danny Elfman managed to fit 33 songs into his set, floating between songs from his latest album Big Mess, Nightmare Before Christmas classics, orchestral performances of some of his biggest musical scores, and dedicating 1/3 of the entire show to Oingo Boingo songs like “Ain’t This the Life,” “Grey Matter,” “Jus Another Day,” “Only a Lad,” “Who Do You Want to Be,” “No One Lives Forever,” and “Dead Man’s Party.” No matter what era of Elfman you are a fan of, there was a song for you to lose yourself into.

With a four story video screen placed behind the band, Elfman orchestrated some amazing visuals to go along with the show. During the orchestral songs like “Spider-Man Main Title,” “The Batman Theme,” “Beetlejuice Theme,” “Wednesday Main Titles,” We got customer video snippets of the movies that were played for us. When Elfman played more of the original songs from Big Mess like “Dance with the Lemurs,” “Devil Take Away,” “Happy,” “In Time,” “Sorry,” “Native Intelligence,” and “Kick Me,” we were taken on an acid trip mindfuck experience akin to the tunnel scene from Willy Wonka. I found myself asking myself “Should I have taken something before coming to this show?” The show even included a heart felt moment when “Breakfast Machine” from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was performed. Elfman stood center stage and banged on a snare drum ala Pee-wee style the whole song, as we got a video package dedicated to Paul Rueben’s, who sadly recently passed.

I’ve not left a concert experience on such a life high like I did this night in a long time. Danny Elfman crafted a show experience unlike any I have been fortunate enough to see. The musicality and precision of all the performers were top tier, and everyone was in rhythm perfectly. If you ever have the chance to see Danny Elfman, I implore you to make it a priority and get yourself to one of his shows.


Matt Martinez

Editor - Orange County

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