Everyone’s been to a gig where the crowd have been left gobsmacked after a stunning set. But more small bands are leaving the stage early, yearning for the small crowds to shout, “ONE MORE SONG”, even if they don’t have a popular track.
Words: Cerys Kenneally, Subeditor: Karolina Zilenaite
Encores are the ultimate guilty pleasure for big stadium gigs. Having seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was younger, I was guiltily one of the 40,000 people shouting ‘one more song!!!’ and rightly so too. They hadn’t performed “By The Way” or “Californication” yet, and the crowd was left rumbling in their sweaty garments for the Chili’s to complete their night.
It should be taken into consideration that 40,000 people are a LOT of people. 250 aren’t. Hearing 40,000 people screaming after you having trudged backstage must be an incredible feeling – intensely electrifying. But a mere 250 screams (or less) is hardly an encore. Instead it’s just a waffle of teenagers trying to scream in time, but mostly failing.
I recently ventured to Islington to see The Wytches at a Fred Perry Subculture gig, and it did leave the crowd with an absolute buzz, but it was only the first three rows of the crowd moshing and engaging heavily with their fuzzy, doomy riffs and screaming vocals. Despite this, 100 people or so proceeded to scream ‘one more song!’ despite the band having played the majority of their well-known tracks. The band didn’t even hide. They waited at the side of the stage as if they were counting down a minute of poorly timed screams from the crowd, waiting for their predictable return to the stage.
Encores are so frequent that it is starting to kill the gig culture. It’s done – just go home.
Of course, we must note that from a band’s point of view it is a token of respect, and of gratitude for their enthralling set. But that’s not to say that at least a quarter of gig-goers are mostly violent idiots, provoking dangerous mosh-pits where unnecessary, and chucking pints of piss all over the front row.
The predictability is what’s damaging the validity of their return. Most bands will plan ahead, “So – what do you reckon we should play with our encore?” No one thinks they won’t get an encore, which is the sad thing. Sure, a 45-minute set is exhausting, but a two-hour stadium gig is nothing on that. The pre-planning for encores is somewhat melancholic, showcasing that musicians sometimes expect nothing less.
The alcohol-fuelled crowd don’t expect anything different. What if a headline band were to exit the stage and just not come back? Well, that would be a shocker wouldn’t it?
The gig-culture of today has specific expectations. If it’s heavy, you need a mosh-pit started by 16-year old boys, and if you leave the stage without playing your biggest tune – you have to go back and play it.
Gig-goers are left disappointed if there’s no encore, after all, they are seeing the specific band because of their attuned music taste. But that’s the sad thing.
Pleasing the crowd is one thing, but if you make fans not expect an encore it will leave them wanting more in the long run.
There are obviously exceptions though. Not all bands prepare for an encore, and are genuinely ecstatic at the crowd reacting in such a way. It’s notable that a lot of gigs are unforgettable, nights that you will remember for the rest of your life. But for the teenage gig culture, it’ll only be a night to remember if they get a photo with the lead singer.
Encores are transforming into an everyday aspect of gig life, and for the band, no crowd is different from the other, because every night the crowd is screaming ‘one more tune’.