Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Rant: Down with the Encore
If you ask me, the encore is a tired and outdated process. The band has left the stage, the lights are darkened, and yet, the audience continues to shout and clap like those wind-up toy monkeys with brass cymbals. “Encore, encore,” the French word for “again,” can frequently be heard and you already know that the band is gonna come charging back onstage and play that hit song of theirs that they not so inconspicuously omitted from the set list. When a concert is over, I am ready to leave. If it’s a weekday, I am ready to hop on the subway and go home, and if it’s a weekend, I’m ready to head to the nearest bar. Besides, if a band is good enough, I’d like to think that the audience members will be satisfied, encore or no encore.
So, you can imagine my delight while at a Bon Iver concert at Town Hall a few months ago, when Justin Vernon announced that there would not be an encore. One fan was outraged and unleashed some gobbledygook about the failing economy and wanting to get his money’s worth. Yet, Bon Iver played practically every song, not only from For Emma, Forever Ago, but also from their new EP, Blood Bank. We were even treated to a cover of Sarah Siskind’s tragically beautiful, “Lovin’s For Fools”. I felt that my money was well spent and left feeling pleased with the show.
Other artists agree with me on this matter. The Strokes generally skip out on encores and Ben Folds once poked fun at the useless ritual as well, saying something along the lines of, “I’m coming back, but you should try to act surprised.” Spare our voice boxes the screaming and shouting and take it from Elvis. Leave the building.