Halloween is days away and Oingo Boingo Former Members put us in the mood by making their annual appearance at the legendary Coach House in San Juan Capistrano last weekend. One word best describes this band: ELECTRIFYING!
The night was perfectly framed; the weather was cool with fans wearing their favorite costumes. Visions of Dracula, sexy witches, Ghostbusters and DEVO roamed the music hall. They all had one thing in common: their love for this epic band.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well I can see why there are Boingo cover bands. That said, there is nothing like the original and OBFM reminded us why they didn’t just make music history; they are part of music history.
As usual, OBFM crashed through the roof with an ear popping guitar blast from Steve Bartek as they opened with “Who Do You Want To Be?”
I was ready to take in the show with no expectations. Immediately the crowd got into the music. I was blown away by Johnny Vatos and how he never misses a beat on drums, Steve Bartek slaying on his guitar solos, Sam “Sluggo” Phipps singing with his sexy sax, Carl Graves bringing the funk on keys while providing backup vocals in full costume, Brian Swartz and Mike “The Spike” Glenndining giving us that full sound on brass we long for.
Front-man Brendan McCreary, with his Olympic vocal stylings, commanded the stage and mesmerized the audience.
When he shouted for everyone in the house to stand and dance… we stood… and we danced! We danced to the music that defined living in SoCal, “Just Another Day,” “On The Outside,” then the crowd genuinely went bananas to “Gray Matter.”
Then, the hit parade went off with “Gratitude,” plus the holiday necessity “Monster Mash” (Bobby “Boris” Pickett cover) as only Sluggo can belt it out.
They continued the stroll down memory lane with “Elevator Man,” “No One Lives Forever,” “Weird Science,” “Private Life,” and “Wild Sex (In the Working Class).”
Circling back to there is nothing like the original, mid-set out came bassist John Avila exploding with energy onstage when he replaced Freddie Hernandez on bass (who was also killing it btw). Avila showed us why there is no substitute for the original as he displayed why Boingo is one of the greatest bands to have come out of SoCal.
Whoever runs sound at The Coach House is amazing and the acoustics in that place do a phenomenal job. Although I think the band had a lot to do with how epic they sounded. OBFM and the Coach House provided amphitheater sound quality, worthy of this exceptionally talented band and their vocally tantalizing lead singer, all within the walls of a deceptively smaller venue. What makes this intimate setting so great is the highly interactive experience of being dazzled by your heroes up close and personal.
When McCreary gets in your face during one of his incredible vocal acrobatics into the mic and points into the audience, hitting high notes you never imagined possible live, he really is pointing at YOU.
They went on to pump out “No Spill Blood,” “Only a Lad,” and closed with “Dead Man’s Party.” As you would expect, the crowd went understandably bonkers to this Halloween classic. As they exited stage left, the cheers got louder and louder.
Being the showmen they are, OBFM came back “Violent Love,” “Nasty Habits,” before calling it a night with Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher.”
Bottom line, Oingo Boingo Former Members packed the house and delivered an amazing show. Anyone reading this article that missed it should be kicking themselves. If that includes you, you have been saved!
As the show ended, Vatos announced that they’ve added one more show… this Sunday night!
If you want to see a Southern California institution, catch Oingo Boingo Former Members on Halloween Eve at The Coach House. Truly, the only way to celebrate the spooky season!