Encore! Encore!
September 15, 2005 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Having just been to a concert last night, I thought the whole tradition of the 'encore' was a little silly. I can't recall a performer ever not coming back to stage and belting out another few songs. Where did the encore come from? What are perfomers doing during their short "break?" Has anyone ever been to a concert performance where there wasn't an encore? Did rioting ensue?
posted by FearTormento to Media & Arts (47 answers total)
 
It's so the band can take a piss.
posted by stet at 9:36 AM on September 15, 2005


Most bands will have agreed a specific time for their set, this will often include coming off and then going back on for 1 or 2 tunes. (That's my UK experience anyway) This 'rule' gets a little bit more rough and ready the lower down the scale you go. I have been to gigs where there was no encore, sometimes it was because the band was, shall we say, not totally appreciated. I have occasionally seen bands go off, then lights up, punters out. No trouble that I've seen, punters usually just grouse. It's very possible that the reaction will vary by venue, and by nature of the performers and crowd.
posted by biffa at 9:37 AM on September 15, 2005


(see also: Standing Ovation)

I don't know for sure when the cultural shift occurred, but it used to be that encores and standing ovations were earned, and not very common. Nowadays, they're more often than not expected.

Because heaven forbid we regard something as "just okay".
posted by mkultra at 9:40 AM on September 15, 2005


As I understand it Sigur Ros DOES NOT give encores. I saw them play a few years back in Portland and the crowd loved them and clapped for ten solid minutes after the show ended but all they'd do is come back and bow. I understand not wanting to give an encore now or then, or only doing it for special occasions, but sheeesh, this crowd was in love with them and they wouldn't come back.
posted by pwb503 at 9:50 AM on September 15, 2005


When I was performing with a rock band, we'd always have a few songs picked out for an encore, but would only give one if the crowd was really going nuts.

As to what the band does durning an encore? They pee, wipe sweat off, swig beer, take a drag off a cigarette...

I now perform with a group that doesn't do encores, but only because we're an elaborate chorale group, and we don't have the time to work up a whole song that may or may not get performed...
posted by Specklet at 9:58 AM on September 15, 2005


The second time I saw Aerosmith (sometime in the summer of 2003, I believe) they didn't do an encore. Listening the radio on the drive back home, it was mentioned that on this particular tour, they generally weren't doing encores, like it used to be when they had to be "earned." Everyone was waiting, but once the lights went up, people generally got the message.

Nearly all of the other concerts I've been too, though, have an "encore." I wouldn't even call it an encore, really, because the band saves their best/most popular songs for it, so when they walk off the stage the first time, you just know they're not going to leave it at that.
posted by Godbert at 9:59 AM on September 15, 2005


When I last saw Guitar Wolf, they did several encores. The first couple followed the drill. Instruments on stage, lights off, etc. The crowd loved it, but wasn't surprised when they came back on and played more.

However, after the last one -- when it was clear that Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf were done for the night and the house lights came on -- Guitar Wolf (the man) came out alone to play and sing some more.

Maybe it was scripted, but I don't care. It really felt like he was showing his appreciation for a very excited crowd (which just erupted -- my glasses were knocked off my face and destroyed on the first chord, before I had a chance to pocket them) and his inability to stop rocking.
posted by Eamon at 9:59 AM on September 15, 2005


I saw the Rolling Stones a few years ago in Hartford, CT and they didn't do an encore. The lights were down for a good 3-4 minutes after the last song, and people were cheering. Eh, whatever, I guess we didn't "earn" it, according to their standards.
posted by AlisonM at 10:03 AM on September 15, 2005


I was at a concert once, many years ago, in which Al Dimeola opened for the progressive folk band Renaissance. Strange setup, because Al Dimeola was way more popular at the time.

By the time Renaissance came on, at least 60% of the audience had left. They put on a rather tepid show. When the house lights came back up, half of the people who were left were already heading for the exits. A small band of hardcore fans -- really no more than 30 or 40 people in an arena designed for 5,000 -- clapped and whooped. Everyone else was just gathering their things and leaving.

Ever since then, I couln't sit through an encore without smirking a little inside.
The house lights went back down, the stage lights came up, and the band came out to do an encore, with an aw-shucks hubris that made it clear that they hadn't been watching the audience at all. It was a train wreck: by the time their "encore" was done, there were maybe 200 people left in the whole arena.
posted by curtm at 10:06 AM on September 15, 2005


UK perspective here - after classical concerts, standing ovations are as rare as hens' teeth, and encores are certainly not always given - at the Proms, for example, which has just finished, only the 'visiting' (non-British) orchestras usually give encores.
posted by altolinguistic at 10:14 AM on September 15, 2005


I went to a show where the band performed no less than 3 encores. It was a small crowd at a small venue sumemrtime in a college town), but they were rock'n their little hearts out 115% and put on a great performance. Every time the singer screamed, "Do you want MORE?!?!" we enthusiastically shouted "Yeeaaaahhh!" though I for one was completely sated after an electric version of "Rainbow Connection" and a 45-minute KISS tribute medly. As one of about 12 people in the club, it felt rude to walk out on a band that had done an excellent job, but every time I screamed in enthusiasm I was quietly praying for them to leave the stage.
posted by junkbox at 10:17 AM on September 15, 2005


I've seen bands at smaller venues with no place for the band to hide either just leave the stage for a moment and stand around in full view of the audience for a moment before coming back, or just say something to the effect of "Well, there's nowhere for us to go, so we're going to play a couple more songs." Of Montreal did the latter when I saw them last week.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:19 AM on September 15, 2005


I have been to a few shows that didn't have an encore... most of those they played straight to 11:00 and had to stop playing because of sound laws. damn sound laws....
posted by kashmir772 at 10:20 AM on September 15, 2005


Back in his Angry Young Man days, Elvis Costello would not only refuse to do encores if he didn't think the crowd earned it, but occasionally would end the set by turning hig guitar all the way up and leaning it up against the amp, creating horrific, screeching feedback as a fine "thank you for coming."

These days, his encores tend to be long, involved things, with many songs and many, many callbacks.
posted by baltimore at 10:20 AM on September 15, 2005


Last year in Tampa, I saw the Pixies with a crowd that was sooooo lame, that the band didn't do an encore. Black Francis looked like he wanted to shoot somebody.
posted by GriffX at 10:20 AM on September 15, 2005


My greatest encore moment, though, was when I got to be backstage at a Ramones concert in the late 1970s.

When the band came off, they kind of huddled right near where I was standing and actually discussed which song to play for the encore. They hadn't pre-planned it.

Unfortunately, the song name is lost to the haze of the passing years, but I'm pretty sure it started with Dee Dee counting "onetwothereefour!"
posted by baltimore at 10:24 AM on September 15, 2005


My greatest encore moment, though, was when I got to be backstage at a Ramones concert in the late 1970s.

When the band came off, they kind of huddled right near where I was standing and actually discussed which song to play for the encore. They hadn't pre-planned it.

Unfortunately, the song name is lost to the haze of the passing years, but I'm pretty sure it started with Dee Dee counting "onetwothereefour!"

;-)
posted by baltimore at 10:27 AM on September 15, 2005


Sorry, for the double-post - not my fault that time. Yet another MetaFilter Server Momentâ„¢
posted by baltimore at 10:28 AM on September 15, 2005


At the 2003 A Perfect Circle Halloween show in San Antonio, the band didn't even have a chance to do an encore. They tried though. Here's an excerpt from www.aperfectcircle.net 's tour journal:
"Jeordie never really left the stage with the others after Judith. He picked up a Billy's guitar and started goofing around. Then James came back center stage and sang the first verse and chorus of I Want It That Way (by the Backstreet Boys). People in the audience were singing along, it was funny. James left the stage again, but Jeordie stayed up there. While this is happening, all of the dumbass roadies are milling around trying to pack up their gear. Then, surprisingly, Billy came back... then Josh! Billy starts looking around for a bass to play, but apparently the dumbass roadies had already unhooked it. So Jeordie gets the crowd to start chanting "BASS... BASS... BASS... BASS" and they hooked it back up finally. They immediately start playing Master Of Puppets by Metallica, with Billy on bass, Jeordie singing and playing lead, and Josh on drums. They played about 3/4 of the song before finally leaving the stage."

It was the strangest encore I've seen.
posted by sublivious at 10:37 AM on September 15, 2005


Last year in Tampa, I saw the Pixies with a crowd that was sooooo lame, that the band didn't do an encore. Black Francis looked like he wanted to shoot somebody.

Doesn't Frank Black always look like he wants to shoot someone? At least that's been my experience the few times I've seen him and the Catholics go at it. I think he might have done an encore once...
posted by jaysus chris at 10:38 AM on September 15, 2005


See "The Supersuckers" re: fake encore.
posted by lilboo at 10:41 AM on September 15, 2005


My bf and I just saw Tori Amos here in Toronto. She's been doing encores through the tour, but not always the same numbe. And let me tell you, when she left the stage the first time, the crowd had a meltdown. Screaming, clapping, yelling, totally insane. So she ran back out, did another song, waved and smiled and left... then came back for another. We were all, I think, hoping for a third, but she had to get to her plane.

It always bothers me when the encore is so clearly planned. Encores should be an artist thanking the audience for their praise by giving them another song. Planning one ahead of time is just a tad arrogant.

My favourite ever encore moment was about nine years ago. Sarah McLachlan was opening for Sting (even at that point in her career, it was somewhat strange to see her opening for anyone, I have to say), and she finished her set, bowed and went offstage. We all went a bit loopy clapping and cheering... and Sting (!) led her back out onstage, said something liek "Give 'em another one" and vanished. Hell of a moment.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:54 AM on September 15, 2005


God, I've been to plenty of concerts where there was no encore. During the long-distant days of the punk wars it was pretty much de rigeur not to encore if you fancied yourselves as a very street-cred punk band. All that encore shit was for hippies, maaan. It didn't cause rioting. That had usually been going on from the first number... :-)

I've seen bands not encore since then, too. I guess it depends what sort of bands you see. The big bands seem to play the game; the indie types less so.

I've always thought the stamping and hollering encore ritual was stupid and I pretty much never do it. Except when I go see Radiohead, where I tend to get a bit carried away.
posted by Decani at 11:07 AM on September 15, 2005



Last year in Tampa, I saw the Pixies with a crowd that was sooooo lame, that the band didn't do an encore. Black Francis looked like he wanted to shoot somebody.


Maybe they weren't doing encores on that tour, because I saw them last year (right before they played uh.. Coachella) at the Glass House (or whatever it's called) in LA, and they did not perform an encore despite the entire fuckin place trying their damnest to get them back on the stage.

that said, i totally respect bands not giving encores. By making the encore an expected part of a concert, the tradition has lost all of its magic. I mean, why not just say "hey, we're taking a break, we'll be back in a bit". The whole "pretending we're done" that then requires the "OMG you guys love us ok we'll play one more" is more annoying to me than just not playing an encore at all. Particularly when they don't play the hit single they're touring for until the encore. It's like, uh, you tipped your hand there, buddy -- it's not like you just *weren't* gonna play that song.
posted by fishfucker at 11:08 AM on September 15, 2005


Particularly when they don't play the hit single they're touring for until the encore. It's like, uh, you tipped your hand there, buddy -- it's not like you just *weren't* gonna play that song.

Exactly, fishfucker. We were waiting for Weezer to hurry up and get the hell of stage before the main event and they came back on and played not only one of their biggest hit songs, but shot off cannons of confetti and what not. Like that wasn't planned *at all*
posted by FearTormento at 11:20 AM on September 15, 2005


David Gedge (Wedding Present/Cinerama) does not do encores.
posted by mookieproof at 11:48 AM on September 15, 2005


I saw the Rolling Stones a few years ago in Hartford, CT and they didn't do an encore. The lights were down for a good 3-4 minutes after the last song, and people were cheering. Eh, whatever, I guess we didn't "earn" it, according to their standards

They never do. It's a given. (Well, I think once, which kindles hope in the hearts of the die hards.)

On the other hand, I saw Jean Pierre Rampal once and he wouldn't stop giving them. Audience was walking out in droves and he still kept coming back.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:56 AM on September 15, 2005


Doesn't Frank Black always look like he wants to shoot someone? At least that's been my experience the few times I've seen him and the Catholics go at it. I think he might have done an encore once...

I saw Frank Black & the Catholics at Avalon in Boston a few years ago, and they did more than one encore. He didn't look like he wanted to shoot someone, but he didn't speak to the audience until before the first encore, when he introduced all the band members. The encore was a really badass, 7 minute version of "Bullet", and of course "Where is my Mind?".
posted by SweetJesus at 12:18 PM on September 15, 2005


I'm not surprised the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith quit doing encores; I'm surprised they still perform in public at all. And Ozzy should have retired for good 10 years ago, don't y'all think? A senior-citizen rock-&-roller is by definition silly: they switch to Jazz, Blues or Country once they turn 45. They should have some dignity like I do, I mean.

The rockers of my teen years are pushing 80 now and should restrict their rocking to the kind one does in purpose-made chairs, and that on "climate-controlled" sun porches.

To answer Ian Anderson, you're never too young to die either.
posted by davy at 1:41 PM on September 15, 2005


I've seen a few weird endings to shows.

Was at a Queensryche show and there was an opening band, can't remember who they were, some kind of death metal or black metal kinda thing. Crowd was really small and not into it.
After they had played only 3 or 4 songs the stage crew came out in the middle of a song and started unhooking all the mikes and amps and removing them from the stage. "The lead singer barely got out " I guess we're supposed to go now" before they disconnected his mike.

At a Dream Theater show after they had done the usual encore the guitar player kept playing for a few minutes. The rest if the band was standing at the front of the stage ready to take a bow and all looking at him like he was crazy, the drum player eventually walked over to him and stood behind and reached around from the back and started playing his guitar.

The band Dredg sometimes ends a show with the drummer playing a simple melody on a keyboard with one hand and a simple beat with the other and the stage crew will come out and start taking his drum set apart while he's still playing it.
He plays until the last piece of his drumset is taken away. He's plays drums and keyboards at the same time during other parts of the show also.
posted by Justin Case at 1:54 PM on September 15, 2005


And antother thing about the endings of concerts, I remember back in the day when a show ended bands would only come out and stand arm in arm and take a bow if the concert had been really good and the band had made a connection with the audience.

It seems to be pretty standard at most concerts now no matter the quality of the show or crowd.
posted by Justin Case at 1:58 PM on September 15, 2005


I've heard stories of bands that plan not to do encores and then the crowd gets all pissy when they get to the end of the set and have nothing left to perform... but I liked the solution TMBG came up with the last time I saw them - they told us they wouldn't be doing an encore, and then after their last song, they broke a couple guitar strings to make it clear, so there was no weird ambiguity of 'are we being underappreciative if we don't demand an encore even though they said they weren't doing one...'
posted by mdn at 2:08 PM on September 15, 2005


I saw Bad Religion about 93 or 94. They were playing well, but the crowd just wasn't into it after a while. Things started out good, but then it was like everyone got tired at the same time or something. Audience and band, too. So the band, towards the end of the set, says "We're not going to leave just so we can come back, here's 2 more songs." And they played two more songs, and that was that. Everyone was tired and glad the show was done.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:04 PM on September 15, 2005


I don't have a lot of patience for the obligatory encore, and standing ovations seem to have gotten overly common, too.

The only time I remember actually wanting an encore is when I saw Aztec Camera open for Edie Brickel and New Bohemians (a long, long time ago). Aztec Camera was great--one of the best performances I've ever seen--and we called them back for two encores. Between their set and the first encore they'd played all of their songs, so they replayed some in the second encore. (Edie Brickel was really boring by comparison.)
posted by kirkaracha at 4:46 PM on September 15, 2005


pwb503: As I understand it Sigur Ros DOES NOT give encores. I saw them play a few years back in Portland and the crowd loved them and clapped for ten solid minutes after the show ended but all they'd do is come back and bow.

I think they might have got the message: they did an encore at their Sydney show a month back. And for your efforts, pwb503, I am grateful.
posted by bright cold day at 4:53 PM on September 15, 2005


The copycat nature of popular culture is bloody annoying. Other things that have been diluted with inappropriate or over use:

- the champion of a tennis tournament climbing into the stands to greet his family. It was touching when Pat Cash did it spontaneously the first time, now it's just nauseating.

- Dubya saluting troops. Motherfucker doesn't understand that civilians are NOT supposed to salute, and no president before him did it regularly.
posted by randomstriker at 6:04 PM on September 15, 2005


King Crimson. No encores, usually. In fact, I have never heard of a King Crimson encore, whatever iteration the band was in at the time. But I am a rather new KC fan (10 years).

They will actually walk off the stage if they see recording devices or cameras of any kind. Just put down the instruments and walk off.
posted by oflinkey at 8:13 PM on September 15, 2005


I've seen lots of bands that don't give encores. Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Stars of the Lid immediately come to mind.

I've also seen bands that say something like "Don't bother cheering for an encore. We'll be back in 5 minutes to play it regardless of how loud you yell." REM did this in the 80s, for instance.
posted by dobbs at 8:38 PM on September 15, 2005


They will actually walk off the stage if they see recording devices or cameras of any kind. Just put down the instruments and walk off.

And do they ever come back?
posted by craniac at 8:43 PM on September 15, 2005


Last year in Tampa, I saw the Pixies with a crowd that was sooooo lame, that the band didn't do an encore. Black Francis looked like he wanted to shoot somebody.

I saw the Pixies last year and left before they even finished. Easily the lamest concert I've been to in years. I had fond memories of them performing live when they were around for the first time, now I'll never see them again. It was like a watching a factory operate. If an encore was demanded, it certainly wasn't deserved.

I'd much rather see the Styxies, my imaginary Pixies and Styx tribute band that performs Styx songs like the Pixies would.

There's this:

"The practice of encores dates back to the 17th century. In those days, singers would repeat numbers on demand during an opera regardless of the fact that they broke up the dramatic line. In other words, encores were not originally limited to the end of performances but were also given intermittently throughout."

From here.

I've seen a few bands myself that "don't do encores" like New Order and The Wedding Present. Accept they did.
posted by juiceCake at 9:19 PM on September 15, 2005


I saw St Etienne many years ago and they played something like six songs, said "we're not a rock band, we don't do encores" and walked off. Put me right off them it has.
posted by jontyjago at 11:39 PM on September 15, 2005


As others have mentioned, encores often don't happen at classical and jazz concerts. At some jazz venues the shows are timed (they have several shows back-to-back), so there's no room for an encore.

While I'm not pleased with this preplanned encore phenomenon, the most interesting encore I've seen was most definitely planned. This was at a Metallica show. They played for about an hour and a half, then went off the stage for a few minutes, and let the crowd cheer in the darkness. After that they came back, as if nothing had happened, and played like eight songs in a row. I guess you could call that a mock encore.
posted by epimorph at 1:38 AM on September 16, 2005


I saw The Dandy Warhols once. At the end of the main set, they said that they were going to play so more songs, but were having a bit of a break. They sat down in a circle on the stage, drinking beers and chatting. It was cool.

I also saw Pavement doing a second encore while their set was being disconnected around them. One of the best gigs I ever saw.
posted by doozer_ex_machina at 2:46 AM on September 16, 2005


Saw Robert Plant at WOMAD this year. The whole festival was tightly organised and almost everything began and ended exactly when advertised.

Given that the whole thing was tightly timed I couldn't help thinking that the false ending was a bit of a con, as it just meant a few minutes less actul music (an advertised 75 minute set becomes 70). More ridiculous, though, were the several minutes they spent on the stupidly overblown rock 'n roll ending to Whole Lotta Love.
posted by monkey closet at 3:33 AM on September 16, 2005


I always like it when bands don't do encores, or at least pre-planned ones. Last band I saw that didn't were the Arcade Fire - don't think anyone really expected one either since they had already played everyting we knew. Oh, and there's a couple of times I've seen bands trash their equipment at the end of the set, handily preventing any kind of encore (I've read that was one of the reasons Kurt Cobain often trashed his guitar aswell).

I also remember hearing about another Pixies show from the era where they were messing around with the gig format (alphabetical set-lists and the like). They basically did a backwards set - came on, played one song then walked off, before returning to do the 'main' set in reverse usual order.
posted by anagrama at 4:24 AM on September 16, 2005


When I saw the Cocteau Twins back in the mid-80's, they clearly weren't prepared for an encore. Handicapped by the lack of a drummer, Robin rewound the reel-to-reel, and they played a song they had played earlier in the set.
posted by malocchio at 10:53 AM on September 16, 2005


Every time I saw The Bad Livers, they would get to their second or third to last song and announce that they were almost done, that they don't do encores because it's stupid, and that we were to pretend at that time that they had left the stage. Then they'd play their last couple of songs.
posted by smartyboots at 4:02 PM on September 16, 2005


« Older I'd like to generate an RSS fe...   |  My girlfriends 23rd b-day is c... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.