For the last couple of years, he's been known almost exclusively as Danny Elfman, Film Composer. Up next: an overdue return to Oingo Boingo and a gear-shift into Danny Elfman, Protest Singer.
Boingo, the rock 'n' roll big band Elfman leads in his non-orchestral moments, opened its Wednesday show at the Universal Amphitheatre (the first of five nights there) with three of its five "works in progress." And it's apparent that while writing all those film instrumentals Elfman has been saving up a lot of lyrical bile.
"Say Hello," a brooding piece of polyrhythm featuring no less than nine folks on percussion plus a kids' choir, featured lines like "Christian nation, tell me the truth, do you really want to make me one of you?" A watching-the-war-on-CNN tune, "There They Go," proved preternaturally topical with its half-finished but entirely pointed salvos: "Our kids are dumb, but our bombs are smart."
Other, less political new songs cast Boingo in the vein of a semi-stripped-down guitar band, a dynamic contrast to the mega-busyness of the oldies--which were present in spades, of course, in a 27-song, two-hour-plus show so entertaining it seemed to pass in half the time.
And the 13-member ensemble proved tight enough to make Elfman's closing remark about "shaking off a little dust and rust" sound entirely incongruous. The run continues with shows tonight and Saturday (both sold out) and Tuesday and Wednesday.