Dead Man's Party — a tribute to Oingo Boingo — plays Belly Up on Saturday night.
  • Dead Man's Party — a tribute to Oingo Boingo — plays Belly Up on Saturday night.
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Oingo Boingo, the musically complex octet that was the centerpiece of California ’80s new wave has been dead for 20 years. But Dead Man’s Party, an Oingo Boingo tribute band, has been a SoCal Halloween season staple since it was founded by frontman Rob Elfaizy in 2001.

Elfaizy looks and sounds like Oingo founder Danny Elfman. Which is a good thing for Oingo freaks because Elfman, who has a booming career creating movie soundtracks, refuses to regroup the original band. Elfaizy says Richard Elfman (Danny's brother and founder of an early version of Oingo Boingo, Mystic Knights) has seen Dead Man’s Party and has been supportive of his ersatz Oingo.


"On the Outside" Oingo Boingo tribute Dead Man's Party Oingo Boingo tribute Dead Man's Party

Then there is original Oingo Boingo drummer Johnny Vatos who wants to keep the Oingo ball rolling with his own band. He has three upcoming SoCal shows with his “Boingo Dance Party,” which includes original Oingo member Sam “Sluggo” Phipps (sax) and keyboardists Carl Graves and Doug Lacy, who played in Oingo in its later years.

Seems like there’s plenty of Oingo love to go around, right?

Wendy Pineda represents Vatos’s band. She demanded that Elfaizy change Dead Man’s Party vanity URL from OingoBoingoTribute to something else. She also stated that she had no problem if the Belly Up and Elfaizy said Dead Man’s Party was “a tribute to Oingo Boingo” but that “Oingo Boingo tribute band” was not acceptable in advertising or promotion.

Elfaizy says he was told by his attorney that he was completely within his rights to bill his band as an Oingo Boingo tribute band, just as it’s okay to say something like “tastes like Coca-Cola,” as long as you don’t misrepresent yourself as the actual band.

Local intellectual property attorney David Branfman agrees.

“I have never seen or heard of a case where XYZ tribute band was pursued legally by the original XYZ band for calling themselves a tribute band — as long as they don’t mislead the public into thinking they’re the real deal.... In fact, I don’t even see where the name ‘Oingo Boingo’ is even officially registered as a trademark in the first place.

Past Event

Dead Man's Party

  • Saturday, October 24, 2015, 8 p.m.
  • Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+ / $18 - $32

“Ironically, I could see where Danny Elfman or whoever really does control the Oingo Boingo name/trademark could have a real problem with Mr. Vatos’s ‘Oingo Boingo Dance Party.’ That could very possibly confuse the public into thinking it’s the real ‘Oingo Boingo.’”

On October 7 Pineda said via email that she would respond to questions regarding her demands to Dead Man’s Party, but she failed to respond further.

Dead Man’s Party plays the Belly Up on October 24, and Vatos’s Boingo Dance Party comes to the Music Box on November 20.

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Ken Leighton Oct. 21, 2015 @ 9 p.m.

Danny's older brother Richard Elfman and Danny co-founded The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo which eventually became just Oingo Boingo. It was Richard who "...has seen Dead Man’s Party and has been supportive of his ersatz Oingo." I stand corrected.


James_Wilson Oct. 22, 2015 @ 1:29 a.m.

So fix it in the text of the article instead of noting it here, where a reader has to scroll all the way down to read it. It's a very misleading statement in the article, especially in light of Danny's recent backing of Vatos and his use of the Oingo Boingo name.


James_Wilson Oct. 22, 2015 @ 1:56 a.m.

Market confusion is created when two offerings serving a similar market have similar names.

It's easy to see how 'Oingo Boingo Trubute Band' and 'Oingo Boingo Dance Party' could be confusing to a potential concertgoer trying to decide where to spend their money.

Which brings me to the major flaw in the article: the centerpiece argument is based on outdated Information.

Danny Elfman himself recently endorsed Johnny Vatos' group, supporting their taking on the full name of the band. Vatos' group is now called Oingo Boingo Dance Party. Vatos has been performing the music he helped make a Halloween season must-see for a decade now.

It is very misleading to leave statements like "Oingo founder Danny Elfman has seen and supports Dead Man's Party" in the article when there's not only no evidence to support that claim, but in fact Danny has come out in support of Johnny Vatos' group.

As a fan, I have to note that the two bands couldn't be more different: DMP tends to play the album arrangements at the album tempos (which Oingo Boingo, known for their raucous live shows, almost never did) while Vatos' group breathes life into the music, playing it with the intensity and insanity they established.

DMP is portraying a live experience that never existed, and one that, had the real band put forth, would've certainly cost them fans. They are attempting to duplicate the recordings in a live setting, which sucks the spontenaeity out of the performance.

Additional note: the band's name has never been shortened to or officially referred to as 'Oingo'--but it has been called Boingo. They used 'Boingo' in their merch for years, referred to themselves that way, and even released an album under that name. If you're going to abbreviate their name, Boingo is generally the preferred version.


Ken Leighton Oct. 22, 2015 @ 9:57 a.m.

Danny Elfman's "endorsement" has nothing to do with Johnny Vatos' representative Wendy Pineda demanding that Dead Man's Party stop billing itself as an "Oingo Boingo Tribute." According to the attorney and everyone I spoke with, it is completely legal and honorable for this decade-old tribute band to continue calling itself "Dead Man's Party: A Tribute to Oingo Boingo." The fact that Vatos was in fact a founding member of the original band and is now basically playing in a separate tribute band, somewhat confuses the issue. I guess you could say he is a tribute to the band he used to be in. But because Elfman likes Vatos' tribute band does not take away from Dead Man's Party right to continue billing itself for what it is: an Oingo Boingo tribute band. The reality is -- according to its fans and true believers -- there is not now nor will there ever be another Oingo Boingo, since its major creative force, Danny Elfman, doesn't want an "Oingo Boingo" to ever resurface. As the attorney suggested, it seems on its face a little sketchy that the sponsoring radio station for the November Johnny Vatos show and its venue (Music Box) is billing its show as the "Oingo Boingo Dance Party." But as the attorney also pointed out, ANYBODY can theoretically use "Oingo Boingo" since that name is not legally protected. It seems to me there is plenty of Oingo Boingo appreciation opportunities out there for everybody. Dead Man's Party has done a fine job for years, and according to James Wilson, so does Johnny Vatos' tribute band. The fun started when Pineda made legal-sounding demands to Dead Man's Party and the Belly Up.


jnojr Oct. 22, 2015 @ 11:02 a.m.

Dead Man's Party is a great show, I was planning on seeing them this Sat but something else came up.


Ken Leighton Oct. 22, 2015 @ 11:38 a.m.

Dead Man's Party IS a great show. Do you have any idea how good a musician you have to be to play those complex arrangements? I am told they have sold more advance tickets for Saturday's show at this time than they had for previous DMP/Belly Up shows that sold out, which seems to indicate this weekend's show will also sell out. Full disclosure: the band I managed, Incognito, opened for Oingo Boingo in 1981 at the Little Bavaria in Del Mar. Also, I met Danny Elfman when Oingo played the Del Mar Fair in 1984. I interviewed him for an advance article in the Times-Advocate (a daily North County paper). Like Oingo Boingo, the Little Bavaria and the Times-Advocate no longer exist.


Rob Oct. 22, 2015 @ 3:57 p.m.

All of us from Dead Man's Party would like to extend our thanks Ken & jnojr for your flattering comments, and thanks again Ken Leighton for retracting and fixing the misquote; I appreciate it. Most importantly, we want to thank everybody out there who have kept this band alive for FIFTEEN YEARS now - WE LOVE YOU ALL!!!

Ken, I agree that "there's plenty of Oingo love to go around." Dead Man's Party was founded to celebrate the music of Oingo Boingo for the love of the band and the music. Fortunately for us, over the years of doing what we do we have been fortunate enough to gain the support of both Boingo veterans and newbies alike. With the ongoing support of Boingo and DMP fans it looks like we will continue to do so for years to come! :)

There are no original Oingo Boingo band members in Dead Man's Party, though we have been blessed to have the support of many of them, the most active of which is Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo founder Richard Elfman (check out his upcoming movie Forbidden Zone 2). We've even been lucky enough to have a number of Boingo members join us on stage over the years - a dream come true for all of us! Still, to some people there is no substitute for the original, no matter what the quality of the reproduction is. To them a tribute is and will always be a cheap knock-off. That is just a simple fact that all tribute bands must face and accept.

Now to clarify some of the confusion. DMP's goal is to be the closest recreation of an Oingo Boingo concert that a concert goer can experience. Many of us saw the originals a number of times - myself included (1st show @ Pacific Amphitheater in '85). We base our performances on our own experiences as well as referencing the many videos available online. And yes, we admit that we are not trying to BE Oingo Boingo, so we don't do ALL the moves, nuances, etc, but you do have to make a show your own just a little, ya know? Speaking at least for myself, that's where part of the passion comes from. Anyhow, Boingo went through a few different phases, so we have chosen to focus on their early years since that is where it all originated (and when I became a fan myself). Though we DO attempt to sound as close to the original recordings as possible, we do so just as Boingo originally did in their live performances. We also change up the arrangements we choose to play from time to time based on live arrangements also performed by our original counterparts. For the most part we do not attempt to do our own renditions of Boingo tunes. It seems to me that, by definition, that would make us a cover band, not a tribute band.

We love and appreciate you all, and are looking forward to partying with you at what is already nearly a SOLD OUT house at the Belly Up in Solana beach this Saturday night! Long live Boingomania!!!">" alt="15 YEARS of Dead Man's Party, the original Oingo Boingo tribute band">">15 YEARS of Dead Man's Party, the original Oingo Boingo tribute band


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