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August 20th, 1983
(BAM Magazine September 23, 1983)

OINGO BOINGO / X

PACIFIC AMPHITHEATRE

I know it sounds kinky but I've gradually fallen in love with Oingo Boingo, particularly as a live unit. Boingo music is definitely an acquired taste, and on record there are scattered moments that can repel even a diehard Boingo booster. But the band has come a long way since the days when it was dismissed as little more than an industrial-size DEVO. And from tiny club stages to the huge US Festival platform, the LA octet has proven itself a remarkably fierce and engaging concert act.  The gig at the 18,000 seat Pacific Amphitheatre was no exception and, in fact, was the most triumphant of the countless Boingo sets I've witnessed. Heavily emphasizing material from the new Good For Your Soul LP (eight of its eleven cuts), the band charged through a 95-minute program bursting with so much energy and so many seductive rhythms that it quickly became a delightfully out of control dance party.  Though the group stresses playing as an ensemble - and an air tight one at that - much of the credit for the crowds fervent, loose-limbed response goes to drummer Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez and bassist Kerry Hatch, easily rocks most underrated rhythm section. And lead vocalist Danny Elfman was in especially fine form, moving with high speed athletic grace and siging with power and conviction. (Remember when he could only yell with power and conviction?) Elfman has always struck me as an immensely gifted, intriguing performer, yet cool and inaccessible; so it was nice to see him emotionally moved by the mid-set ovation that followed Boingo's stunning rendition of "Nothing To Fear (But Fear Itself)." He then thanked the crowd for its salute and for being part of the "biggest concert we've ever done not opening for someone." Before launching into "What You See Is What You Get," he also graciously thanked X for opening.  X opening? I couldn't figure it out either. But after an uncharacteristically slow start, the quartet turned in a feisty, hard-hitting hour set that blended faves like "White Girl" and "Los Angeles" with material from their new album, More Fun In The New World.  While a smokey, dingy club is still, of course, the place to see X, those days are pretty much history; and, besides, the quartet's brand of raw rock is sufficiently potent to tear things up even in a setting like the mammoth Amphitheatre. (X returns to headline status September 22 at the Greek and September 24 at UC Irvine's Crawford Hall.)
-Duncan Strauss