Calling for an end to the encore.

It’s often said that one of the warning signs in a relationship is when spontaneity has been lost.

Perhaps things were exciting at first, but after being together for a while, a dreaded routine may have taken the place of happy randomness. The partners in this unfortunate relationship may have settled into complacency, which can lead to boredom and from there, relationship death may not be too far away… This end stage is where I think I’m at with ‘encore’ performances at music gigs.

Surely it’s no longer a surprise for anyone in the audience when the artist or band performing returns to the stage for the second time. It often seems so staged and formulaic, that the whole original point of an encore feels like it has been lost. This is especially true when the performer deliberately holds off performing some of their biggest hits or most popular songs until the encore (seriously, WE KNOW YOU’RE COMING BACK). Here’s an idea, why not just finish the entire set the first time around instead of making the audience go through that horrid fake performance of ‘calling’ the artist back?

It can also be a little awkward in that intervening period between end of main set and waiting for the artist’s re-emergence for the encore. Given that we all know an encore WILL happen, there’s something so horribly inevitable about it all. Rarely will you see (or hear) an audience almost ‘tear itself apart’ to ensure the artist knows they simply MUST go back on stage to appease their demands.

Let’s bring the excitement back into the relationship between the audience and the end of a performance by dropping the whole meaningless encore charade. Just imagine how surprising it would be to NOT have an encore and be part of an audience where you’re left actually wanting more, for real… what a delicious thought.

12 Comments

  1. Nico

    Your witty writing is always a delight.

    The problem with the idea is, the first artist who did NOT comeback would be torn to metaphorical pieces for ripping off the audience.

    To ensure the pieces are metaphorical and not physical as well, I suggest Andre Rieu should be the one to start the trend, Slipknot not so much.
    .-= Nico´s last blog ..F Club =-.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Nico – Why thank you for saying so. I often think that my sense of humour doesn’t always come across in my writing, but I can always trust in you to see it! 🙂

      You’re probably right about the first artist who didn’t do an encore being ‘torn to pieces’ for being a ‘ripoff’ … such is life. Me though, I would applaud such revolutionary behaviour. 😉

      I agree with your suggestion of Andre Rieu starting the trend with a softly, softly approach … seriously, that guy is EVERYWHERE in recent times…

  2. Lisa

    Hello Tracey – Group oriented rallied requests are rather inelegant, aren’t they? Especially since the primary source is routinely of a conventional nature. Perhaps an encore is a central fundamental of actability? 😀

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hello there wonderful Lisa – Yes, I agree that there is indeed something inelegant and somewhat unsophisticated about group based performances such as that expected by the ritual of the encore. However, your comments also bring to mind an interesting point about the possible fundamental nature of the encore. If it’s true that the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players, then perhaps an encore is merely two sides of a performance completely their required parts to make a whole …

      You’re ever a thought-provoker … (I love your recent posts too by the way).

  3. Ms. SP

    I hate those instances when the lights stay down and you clap and clap and holler only to have the house lights go up after five minutes of this. It’s jarring and insulting. Either come back or don’t.

    I’d also like to recommend Cheryl Wheeler’s method. She announces that she will now do a “last song.” Then to the confused audience, she explains that folk fans are always generous and will ask everyone and anyone back. So instead of getting up, walking offstage, standing there like a dope only to come back, we’ll just all pretend that it happened. Then when she does the “encore” song and leaves the stage, we all know we’re done.

    This always gets everyone smiling and no one ever minds.
    .-= Ms. SP´s last blog ..Television Bullets =-.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Ms. SP – I TOTALLY agree with you on the ridiculousness of that almost instantaneous return to the stage which some artists do after completing the main set. I’ve been to a few performances where the artist walks off only to literally walk straight back onto the stage – what’s the point of that? I agree that it does disrupt the flow of things … personally I think if you’re going to go off, at least leave the stage for a good reason – costume change, shower, whatever – at least do something to require the break in transmission.

      Cheryl Wheeler’s method sounds interesting, it’s like a way of getting an encore within the main performance – surely that would be the perfect way to make everyone happy?

  4. Rellacafa

    Hear, freaking, HEAR!

    I hate the staged, expected feel of encores nowadays. Do something special, artists, don’t save your hits for the encore! Play the hits during the set and give us something special if you want an encore! I hate sitting there, in the dark (clue anyone), waiting for them to come back…it just means I’m not going to really cheer until the next ‘end of the show’.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Rellacafa – I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who thinks along these lines re: encores … sometimes they just seem SO unnecessary. I guess it’s a funny thing really, I definitely want to get as much out of a performing artist as possible, and so the encore can in theory feel like you’re getting a ‘bonus’ performance. But as you say, there is often such a staged air about the encore that it loses that degree of ‘specialness’.

      I think when the big hits are saved for the encore it just seems particularly silly – I mean, we know they’re going to be performed, so why not do them earlier on and then if an encore is done, they could include something REALLY surprising…?

  5. Ricardo

    I would deny an encore if i were in music just to say I did it. It would mean that much to me.
    .-= Ricardo´s last blog ..Channeling the Dead Through Baseball =-.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Ricardo – I knew I’d be able to count on you Ricardo!! Surely genuinely leaving the audiences always wanting more is a very good thing indeed… 😀

  6. Dan

    Hey Tracey

    Nicely written postAs usual, but I’m not so sure. I agree that the whole ritual is a bit naff, but then from a bands perspective if you’ve been playing your guts out for an hour or more (I’m thinking particularly of drummers) then a short break to towel down and catch your breath might not just be a pretense – being a touring rock band requires a lot of energy. I do wish more bands would throw surprises into their encores, rather than just leaving their hits to last. To be honest though, I enjoy the ritual, there’s something kind of tribal about a crowd chanting or cheering for a common goal.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Dan – Thanks for your visit! I absolutely love the different perspective you bring! As you know, a lot of my works here are written a little tongue in cheek, so I’m pretty much never 100% serious – I don’t want you to think I’m a supporter of band cruelty! 😉

      I completely agree with you re: the view of the encore from a band’s perspective in that it can give them an opportunity for a break, a towel down, a drink or just a bit of a breather before finishing out the entire set. I guess I’ve just seen too many occasions where a band walks off only to walk STRAIGHT back onto the stage – I’d rather they did just have a break rather than bother with that at all.

      I suppose fundamentally the idea of an encore doesn’t bother me, it’s more the way that encores tend to be used – often rather than being treated as an opportunity to do something unexpected, the encore is used as a way to do the expected. So that idea of leaving their hits to perform last, is probably one I’m more than a bit over – it seems a little trite.

      I appreciate your point about enjoying the ritual of the encore – I know what you mean. I’ve also experienced those sweet moments of ‘togetherness’ in a crowd of people where you unite for a common cause. For me in regards to the encore, this has been most effective in the mass stadium events. For the smaller, more intimate sets, the entire performance seems like a wondrous shared experience. On both occasions though there was definitely a certain kind of magic in the air…

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