Friday, August 10, 2012

Whatever Happened...

To Encores?

One thing that has changed in the music world since I was a kid is this: Musicians at major venues don't play encores anymore. And audiences have accepted it. What I mean by this is that they don't play true encores. 

To me, a true encore is when the band honestly says, "We're done.", and the crowd says "No, wait, play some more!", and the band changes its mind. This used to happen regularly. I've heard about Led Zeppelin concerts where they had to go down to the dressing room to tell the band that the audience was still out there clapping. 

I went to several shows in the 70's where bands played second and even third encores. And it didn't matter if the house lights came on. There was a powerful connection between crowds and bands and sometimes the crowd would not let the band go without getting more. Maybe now that so many people go to shows and mess with their phones and talk the whole time, they don't allow that connection to happen anymore. I don't know...

These days you're at a show and "Hmmmm...the band is saying goodnight but there's this huge monster hit that they haven't played yet...", and sure enough, after our little ritual of clapping and standing, out they come and there's that hit. 

And when the house lights come on, everyone immediately stops clapping and heads for their vehicles. I haven't been to a show where the band actually did something they hadn't precisely planned on doing in maybe 30+ years. And it's been that long since I've heard any applause at all even ten seconds after the house lights come on. 

People have given up on even the possibility of changing the band's mind. I've seen set lists that include these "encores". There's never more songs listed other than the official chosen songs, no "in case they want more" list. It's all show biz now. They say, "We're done.", in a fake way first...We keep clapping...They come out and do a few tunes...They say, "We're done.", for real, by turning up the house lights...and we all say OK, see ya! and run for our cars.

I think the last true encore I saw was at a Paul Simon show in the late 70's. 

All it takes is for audiences to care enough to not roll over when the lights come on. Whether it's in a club or a stadium, if people want more and keep clapping, I imagine even a somewhat jaded band would be moved enough to play another song or two. But it doesn't seem very likely to happen. People are just so obedient these days...

Now maybe it's just the shows I've been to, which admittedly have not been huge in number or extremely varied...maybe there are major acts who don't just execute a planned show and go home...maybe some are playing real encores when the energy is there...maybe some audiences don't immediately fold when the house lights come on. 

Has anybody out there been to any recent shows where the band ended up playing an encore after the house lights went up? Or where you felt that they played more than they had planned on playing? Let me know if you have. It's hard to imagine in today's world...

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