It was indeed a Dead Man’s Party on the lawn at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater on Saturday night.
Without the restriction of seats, the hordes of almost-fanatical Oingo Boingo fans acted out their darker impulses, slam-dancing to “Only a Lad,” spraying each other with florescent paint throughout the night and screaming wildly each time the spotlights panned across the lawn.
“This is the place to be. It’s crazy,” said Nick Strickland, 20, a.k.a. the Bum From Hell, of Canyon Lake.
Like many others who packed the lawn Saturday for the second night of Oingo Boingo’s three-day pre-Halloween stand, Strickland and his buddies from Cal State Fullerton have made the trek to Irvine a not-to-be-missed Halloween-season ritual. This was Strickland’s fourth annual pilgrimage.
Although the concert date was four days shy of Oct. 31, many dedicated Boingo fans remained true to the 5-year-old tradition and dressed up in costumes that ranged from the wacky to the weird.
“I had my costume ready (for Halloween) and thought it would be fun,” said Brenda Stewart, 21, of Lake Elsinore, who dressed up as a red-caped devil.
Interspersed with witches, ghouls and skeletons were chickens, caped crime fighters, cave men and yes, even Homer and Marge Simpson.
One unlucky tennis player with bloodied tennis balls embedded in his face and chest and a broken racket hanging from his neck wished everyone a happy Halloween as they filed in.
The slanted lawn at Irvine Meadows is much like the bleachers at Boston’s Fenway Park, where the seating area itself is as much a happening as the event.
Before the music started, one couple wearing florescent skeleton masks passed out lollipops to fellow concert-goers who were smacking beach balls around and tossing glowing Frisbees that sported bats and otherworldly images.
“We love Oingo Boingo,” said Cliff (who declined to give his last name) of Canoga Park as he weaved his way through the growing crowd and pulled candies from his trick-or-treat bag. His wife, Jaylene, chimed in, “We are trying to make this a family tradition.”
The party started long before the concert did.
Drawn by a weeklong promotion by KROQ-FM morning disc jockeys Kevin Ryder and Gene (Bean) Baxter, hundreds of concert-goers arrived early at the parking lot to watch a 480-pound pumpkin be hurled from a 100-foot platform.
“It was awesome,” said Thomas Harper, 27, of Orange. “It just went splat.”
Harper explained the band’s draw.
“They are a Southern California band and they’ve been around for so long. And (lead singer) Danny Elfman is a genius.”
Scott Yenzer, a Cal Poly engineering student, agreed. Dressed as a crash dummy, Yenzer, 23, arrived at Irvine Meadows in a large tour bus with 25 friends from Riverside County.
“I love it,” said Yenzer, a three-time Halloween Bash veteran. “You get to come out, drink beer, dress up and go crazy.”