One of the saddest rites of passage in our culture is the yearly half-assed resurrection of Oingo Boingo by various half-assed terrestrial radio stations every October. Admit it: by the time Halloween night rolls around, you're nearly sick of "Dead Man's Party" or "Weird Science" being trotted out by whatever jocks are stuck following the cookie-cutter format sheet. And for about a generation now, I imagine, that's all Top 40 fans would know of what, to me, is one of the quintessential California bands.
I first heard of Boingo around 1983. I wasn't any sort of music fan, as such, but I'd hear the name bandied about by my more musically-inclined friends. Boingo was just one of those things that was part of the San Diego/Tijuana scene. With the benefit of hindsight, their rise stands out even more: they were a post-punk band that wasn't punky at all, once their sound was fully formed. Yet they weren't synth-pop; they weren't ska; they were sort of unassuming in their look -- suits? nice shoes? horns? -- but D. Elfman's sci-fi sensibility kept them on their own edge, not "cool kid" rock by any means. This was geek rock, two decades before the term was co-opted and bastardized by East Coast hipsters.
Though I noted Elfman's graduation from rock cult-stardom into the realm of elite film composers -- how many of us became Batman fans thanks to that theme? -- I didn't begin to follow Boingo as a band until I received a copy of the Boingo Alive double-record. It wasn't until even later, after I'd gotten hooked on the band thanks to "We Close Our Eyes," that I realized the tracks within were themselves re-recordings of their earlier standout tracks. And the new versions were better. How many artists would go back and not only compile a greatest-hits collection, but improve upon the originals?
By the time "Insanity" was released, I'd become an honest fan of the band -- still sorta-secret, because nobody I knew in college really "got" them. So my sadness was private when I heard about their farewell show, in -- where else? -- Los Angeles and realized my broke ass couldn't go. But I've gotten to catch up, on CD and via video, and I can say I finally attended a show of theirs ... sorta. Two years ago or so, I got to see Dead Man's Party, the near-creepily similar Boingo tribute band. It wasn't the same, of course, but I still got to swing-dance to "Goodbye, Goodbye."
Besides writing my thoughts and reviews here, I'm a Special Correspondent for Racialicious.com and the co-creator and co-host of Hour 42, a podcast covering superheroes -- in the air, on the air and all around us.
I'm not a good person. I'm the guy who whistled "Always Look On The Bright Side" during Passion Of The Christ. I've gone to SCA battles and yelled, "WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET?!" You can say it, it's okay: Smart-ass. Jerk. Bigmouth. This is where I share my take on ... well, basically everything. But especially the geeky stuff in life.