I traveled 2,000 miles to see Oingo Boingo Former Members and it was worth every TSA body search and cranky plane companion. It was not Halloween just yet, but close enough.
The iconic Coach House was filled by a sold-out crowd and the excitement was palpable. Openers Olio gave an energetic and entertaining performance that warmed up the crowd (and gained them some new fans). Their power/pop/funk original tunes were fantastic and their engaging personalities filled the room with a good vibe.
We also had a special emcee by the name of Jimmy Alvarez from TNN Radio and this fine site, OC Music News. He wore one of his trademark print suits which featured Jack Skellington for the true Halloween spirit.
I have seen many Boingo shows, but nothing in decades, so I had no idea what to expect of Oingo Boingo Former Members. Of course I knew original members Johnny Vatos, Steve Bartek, John Avila, Sam “Sluggo” Phipps,” and Carl Graves are amazing, but I had never seen lead singer Brendan McKian, and band members Mike Glendinning, Freddy Hernandez, Brian Swartz, or Ryan Dragon before.
In one word: Amazing.
Seriously, this band is phenomenal. The musicians are all top notch (even impressing my critical musician husband) and McKian is just… wow. He is all over the stage interacting with the audience and the dude can SING. Hearing songs off “Nothing to Fear” live was incredible and they brought out some tunes they don’t usually play live.
From the first song, “Dead or Alive,” the crowd was pumped. I did wonder how I would react to McKian’s vocals as the “new” voice, but that concern was squashed quickly. He put his mark on the songs that made them familiar, yet gave them new life. From then on, I was sucked into the show and loving the band as a unit. “Grey Matter” kicked off the next few “Nothing to Fear” tracks, and the crowd loved it, each new song bringing fist pumps and cheers.
With Halloween around the corner, we got a special treat of “Monster Mash” as sung by Sam “Sluggo” Phipps.” When the Halloween classic was over, Freddy Hernandez got serenaded with “Happy Birthday,” although his beloved Dodgers had just lost their playoff game against the Braves.
The crowd had been enjoying the show already, but it got kicked up big time when John Avila joined the stage to take on bass duties. “Just Another Day” had everyone on their feet and singing along, and it did not stop. When the band got to “No Spill Blood,” the concertgoers handled the call and response portions loudly. (Who makes the rules? Someone else! What is the law? No spill blood!). A bit of “Another One Bites the Dust” got added in to the crowd’s enjoyment. “Dead Man’s Party” followed and kept the amped-up mood going.
Sadly, that was the end… for a moment! Vatos said to keep it going, and so they did. The extended encore included four songs, closing with the perfect closer, “Goodbye Goodbye.”
Recently, Vatos told us new music was headed our way from Oingo Boingo Former Members.
“We’re looking at a release in September 2022 and between now and September; we’re going to be releasing original music we’ve been working on.”
He explained. “It’s going to be part of a double album. Exciting times ahead, and we’re gonna let everybody know what we’re doing. And you’ll be hearing some original music played by the band.” The Coach House show let each member shine and showed that all of them have the musical skills for this name. They blend so well together, and while each member could overpower others, they are a perfect cohesive unit of a band.
Oingo Boingo Former Members has two more October dates remaining: Saturday’s Humphreys Concerts By the Bay (w/ Dramarama and Missing Persons), then the big Halloween show on Sunday at The Canyon Agoura Hills.
If you have never seen Boingo at Halloween, trust me this is a must see. Do yourself a favor and GO! I promise you will love it.