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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Oingo Boingo Bids Warm and Emotional Farewell

November 02, 1995|STEVE HOCHMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

What will Oingo Boingo fans do next Halloween?

"I don't know," said one of them, a downcast Rochelle Reese, 24, midway through the Universal Amphitheatre concert on Tuesday that the band says will be its last ever.

This was the ninth time Reese spent Allhallows Eve at a Boingo concert, a Southern California tradition since the early '80s.

But after 17 years as the KROQ crowd's favorite native son, does Boingo leave a void besides plans for Halloweens to come?

The group gave its all to make a case Tuesday, packing more than 44 songs into a nearly four-hour show. Here the trademark mocking malice--anchored by a boisterous performance of the signature song "Dead Man's Party"--shone through as ambitious balances of musical complexity and crowd-pleasing cartoonery.

But what really came through was something that's often lost in leader Danny Elfman's cleverness: warmth and affection. Musically it was most evident in a semi-acoustic version of "We Close Our Eyes," a 1987 song that transcended Boingo's novelty-song expression of life's big terrors.

It was there even more in the band's manner and in the puckish Elfman's effusive thanks. After finishing well past the witching hour with "Good Bye Good Bye"--a song Elfman said was too corny for the occasion but played anyway--the band remained on stage, exchanging hugs and blowing kisses to the rowdy fans for some time. It was a display of emotion that gave meaning to the Boingo legacy.

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