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.”
Danny Elfman’s Coachella performance is on the channel 2 stream. He has a choir, an orchestra, and a metal band featuring Josh Freese and Wes Borland.— Bradford Sims (@BradfordSim) April 17, 2022
Y’all, it’s fucking wild and so much better than it has any business being.
Danny Elfman doing a Nightmare Before Christmas medley under the full moon is the content I signed up for 😌— fufu fighters (@cakeandculture) April 17, 2022
There have been what, like, seven Batman films since the Burton films, but Danny Elfman's Batman theme is the one I still associate with the character to this day.— Mike | All Hallows Geek (@AllHallowsGeek) April 17, 2022
Danny Elfman is not in the GOAT conversation enough for my liking.— Dwain Joseph Burke (@burkemade) April 17, 2022
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.