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"
...by 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.
- Saturday, October 24, 2015, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
$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.