Danny Elfman’s Nerdy Coachella Set Included Some of His Best Themes

Danny Elfman’s Nerdy Coachella Set Included Some of His Best Themes
Spider-Man played Coachella! Kinda. (Photo: Kevin Mazur, Getty Images)

Titan of film scores Danny Elfman is no stranger to rock concerts; before his now iconic cinematic masterpieces from collaborations with Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, and others, he was the lead singer of new wave band Oingo Boingo. So the 2002 Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival was the perfect setting for his blend of chaotic genius to make a real return to the stage.

Outside of coming out as a special guest for orchestral performances of his compositions — including performing a few numbers during epic The Nightmare Before Christmas live score events — this was his first full set in a very long time, and it went kinda viral for its creative mash-up of solo songs, Boingo classics, and a full-on orchestra performing his legendary scores from films like Spider-Man and Batman in between. Not typical festival fare, but it appears to have been a huge hit with the audience.

In a post-show interview with Variety he talked about the experience. “I don’t think anybody’s tried that before, mixing up these kinds of elements in this kind of insane musical mashup,” Elfman said. “When you’re trying a conceptual idea, you don’t know what’s going to happen. But in the end, not having a safety net is also extremely exhilarating.”

He also ended up braving a freak sandstorm during the ambitious feat. “I was joking to a friend before the show, ‘Look, we have 30 minutes to set up a show that’s never been performed before with 50 musicians on stage. What can possibly go wrong?’” Elfman said. “And then I’m sitting there before we went on, thinking, ‘Fuck, man. That was a joke, but it’s no joke.’ There were a hundred things to go wrong. But in the end, the one thing that I really wasn’t planning on was a dust storm, an actual sandstorm, in my face. Everything else came together really well.”

Elfman detailed that he expects some of the kinks from last weekend will be sorted out and that he’s excited to return to the Coachella stage for round two. “Even with the mix being partial and so incomplete, I still got such great feedback that I’m really shocked, and encouraged. So now it’s just like, all right, make it better.”

We’ll be on hand to experience weekend two so keep an eye out for our full report from Coachella. Check out the set list, via Variety, below.

Sorry – from Elfman’s most recent solo release Big Mess

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 – Big Mess

Insanity – Oingo Boingo

The Batman Theme

True – Big Mess

The Simpsons Main Title Theme

Only a Lad – Oingo Boingo

Love in the Time of COVID – Big Mess

Ice Dance / The Grand Finale – Edward Scissorhands

Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo

Alice’s Theme – Alice in Wonderland

Happy – Big Mess

Who Do You Want to Be – Oingo Boingo

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Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.