Between retro hits from Oingo Boingo and classic scores to everything from The Nightmare Before Christmas to The Simpsons, Danny Elfman delivered a nostalgia-filled set at Coachella. The iconic film composer performed his first rock concert in 27 years at the Indio, CA festival on Saturday, aided by a full orchestra and backing band.
Though the multi-hyphenate released a solo album, Big Mess, last year, Saturday’s show marked his first traditional concert since the dissolution of Oingo Boingo. The word “traditional” is used very liberally here, as Elfman himself promised “a strange little show” ahead of his set. The composer delivered just that, performing metal-infused renderings of classic scores and resurrecting ’80s hits. His band for the evening included guitarists Wes Borland and Nili Brosh, drummer Josh Freese, bassist Stu Brooks, and a full orchestra and choir conducted by his former Oingo Boingo bandmate Steve Bartek, who also played guitar on some of the band’s songs.
On the Oingo Boingo side of things, Elfman and company delivered takes on “Nothing to Fear”, “Just Another Day”, “Insanity”, “Only a Lad”, “Dead Man’s Party”, and “Insects”, the latter of which was reimagined for Big Mess. It’s difficult to say how many of the average Coachella attendees were familiar with the synthwave act’s catalog prior to Saturday night, but the medley of film and TV themes surely united audiences of all ages.
Even with those familiar compositions, however, Elfman inserted some of his darker leanings, including a metal breakdown in the middle of The Simpsons‘ theme. One of Elfman’s most telling stylistic marriages was that of The Nightmare Before Christmas, where the composer served as Jack The Pumpkin King during a medley of “Jack’s Lament/This Is Halloween/What’s This?”. The performance also included runs through scores from Batman, Spider-Man, Edward Scissorhands, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and Alice In Wonderland before closing with Oingo Boingo’s “Who Do You Want To Be”.
Check out videos from Danny Elfman’s set at Coachella on Saturday. He will return on April 23rd for the second weekend of the festival.
Danny Elfman – “Jack’s Lament” / “This Is Halloween” / “What’s This?” (The Nightmare Before Christmas) – 4/16/22
— Ema Sasic (@ema_sasic) April 17, 2022
Home sick and watching #DannyElfman at #Coachella is making me feel 80% better!! From This is Halloween, Pee-Wee Herman, Batman, The Simpsons to all those #Boingo hits!!! Jaw dropping!!! @dannyelfman #OnlyALad pic.twitter.com/JYZ4Wyz3NF
— Your Boy! Brian (@yourboyBrianRD) April 17, 2022
Danny Elfman – “The Simpsons Main Title Theme”– 4/16/22
Setlist: Danny Elfman | Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival | Indio, CA | 4/16/22
Set: Sorry, Insects (Oingo Boingo), Spider-Man Main Title, Nothing to Fear (But Fear Itself) (Oingo Boingo), Just Another Day (Oingo Boingo), Jack’s Lament / This Is Halloween / What’s This? (The Nightmare Before Christmas), Breakfast Machine (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure), Kick Me, Insanity (Oingo Boingo), The Batman Theme, True, The Simpsons Main Title Theme, Only a Lad (Oingo Boingo), Love in the Time of COVID, Ice Dance / The Grand Finale (From Edward Scissorhands), Dead Man’s Party (Oingo Boingo), Alice’s Theme (From Alice in Wonderland), Happy, Who Do You Want to Be (Oingo Boingo)