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Old 08-14-2019, 10:58 AM
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Encores at concerts


I can't remember a concert that I've been to, other than opening acts, where the headliner didn't do an encore. You know where the performer ends the performance says "thank you" and they all leave the stage. The audience continues clapping and cheering and after a few minutes the performers come back on stage and play 4-5 more songs.

Venues don't even turn the house lights up until after the encore, because they know the performer is coming back. You can look up concert reviews and sites like setlist.com and see that every headliner has consistent encore songs they play during their tour.

So when did this tradition start? And why does this silly act of going off stage for a 5 minute break before finishing the concert continue?
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:04 AM
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So when did this tradition start? And why does this silly act of going off stage for a 5 minute break before finishing the concert continue?
I would imagine it started at some point when someone did end a show and after hearing the applause, they returned to the stage. From there I'd guess people did it for an ego boost and it eventually became a standard part of the show.

When did James Brown start doing his cape routine?
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:09 AM
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Elvis Presley didn't do encores. He came out, sang the set of songs he planned on, and then left. But the audience was used to performers coming back for an encore so they stayed, expecting Presley to return. This was the origin of the announcement that "Elvis has left the building" - they were telling the audience that, no fooling, the concert was really over and they should leave.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:10 AM
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It is not universal, although it happens as you describe 98.5% of the time, at least with the vast majority of the bands I see live.

Things like a strict time curfew at a specific venue, often to do with jurisdictional laws governing alcohol sales, enforcement of local noise ordinances, a contractual issue with the union stage crew, strict time scheduling at a multi-act music festival, or an accute cocaine shortage can all lead to bands forgoing the traditional encore format and just leaving outright after the last song of the set, or going off for a brief 30 second pause and coming right back out without waiting for the de rigueur standing ovation from the audience.

Last edited by Royal Nonesutch; 08-14-2019 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:21 AM
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I can't remember a concert that I've been to, other than opening acts, where the headliner didn't do an encore.
I've been to Bob Dylan shows where he did not do an encore. In fact, I saw him in Pittsburgh at a smaller outdoor venue where he looked at his watch halfway through a song, stopped singing, waved to the audience, said, "thank you and goodnight" and left.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I was at a Bonnie Raitt show on her 30th(?) birthday where her encore turned into a full third set. A cop there for crowd control began opening the doors at the back of the venue. Bonnie yelled at the cop, "It's my birthday and I'll play as long as I want".
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:25 AM
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Broken Social Scene last month was the only concert I can remember where they didnít actually do this. I think at some point near the end they actually said we should just pretend they did it then. Makes sense as there was like a dozen of them and it seems like itíd be a hassle to pack everyone up and come back again. They did play for an incredibly long time, so I think everyone was fine with it.

But yes, itís so standard now that it seems like itís be hard for bands to drop it without upsetting anyone, even if they think itís silly.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:38 AM
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I've been to Bob Dylan shows where he did not do an encore. In fact, I saw him in Pittsburgh at a smaller outdoor venue where he looked at his watch halfway through a song, stopped singing, waved to the audience, said, "thank you and goodnight" and left.
I've never seen him, but from what I've been told he generally doesn't appear to be too enthused to be playing for a crowd.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:45 AM
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I remember seeing Dick Dale in Amsterdam some years ago. When he finished the set, he said: please don't ask for an encore, we just played three and a half hours...there isn't going to be one.



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Old 08-14-2019, 11:56 AM
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The Cars were notorious for their lack of stage presence. I saw them in Portland, Or., I don't remember what year but it was when they were at the top of their game. Unlike some bands that sound off when you see them live, they sounded great, just like you expected. They really worked at the correct sound.

But, they walked onto the stage and said "Hello." Played their set and then said "Thank You" and left. Best damn sounding live performance I have seen. Zero audience participation.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:03 PM
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Yes, it seems like for most performers, an agreed upon tradition between them and the audience. The audience expects it, and the performers know they need to do it.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:15 PM
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As a rule, at least from the mid-1980's onward, the Jerry Garcia Band (Garcia's primary "side-project" when he wasn't touring with the Grateful Dead) almost never played encores after he finished his standard 2 set performances.

As he sang lead on all of the JGB's songs, unlike with the Dead, where he traded off lead vocal duties with Bob Weir, (occasionally) Phil Lesh as well as the keyboard player, he claimed it was too strenuous on his vocal chords, although I saw him come back out for an encore at least a couple of times (both after a solid 5 minute uninterrupted call back from the crowd) most memorably outside of San Francisco at a Sunday afternoon show when he covered "What A Wonderful World" (faithful to the version that Louis Armstrong made famous) and then at a Halloween show in Oakland in 1993, his first live performance in 6 months after another serious health scare, when he covered Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London", much to the great merriment of the audience.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:16 PM
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I've never seen him, but from what I've been told he generally doesn't appear to be too enthused to be playing for a crowd.
I've seen Dylan many times. Despite him not enjoying live performance, I loved every second of his shows.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:39 PM
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Lately I've mostly been going to small acoustic performances. In those situations, it is not at all unusual for the performers to play their set(s) and end. The settings are generally pretty intimate, there is plenty of opportunity to interact w/ the performes at the merch table between/after sets. Sometimes there is even a post-performance jam. In that situation, I usually defer to the performer's assessment of what is a fair amount of entertainment to provide. The idea that I'm going to keep clapping until you give me one more song strikes me as silly - almost greedy and demanding.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:52 PM
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It's like tipping. I wish there were rules, or at least clues.

I saw Cheap Trick in 1979. No seats - old school standing auditorium, where you had to get their early for a good seat stand. (yes people got crushed, but no deaths. Didn't see one girl in our group again until after the show - she got taken backstage due to the crush) They started late, and took a long time between the end of the show and the encore. Been standing for like 4-5 hours by then. After the first encore, the audience made noise for what seemed like ten minutes with nothing happening so I left. Missed the second encore. How long did they expect us to stand? Apparently, longer.

On the other was The Who, 1982. They did a set, but not sure about the encore. If they did it was short. I guess they didn't think much of Iowa. Matter of fact, I don't either, but I think they deserve just as good a performance as NYC.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:53 PM
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In 1994, I saw a band called IQ at a local club. They played their set, then came out for an encore of a couple of songs, as expected. They left the stage again, the lights came up, and people started filing out - when suddenly the band came back out and played one more song.

On one of Marillion's live albums, towards the end of the show the singer says something like "instead of playing this little game where we go off stage for a few minutes then come back out, we're gonna just keep playing. Is that ok with you?"
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Old 08-14-2019, 01:22 PM
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Back around 1972, I saw Elvin Bishop in a festival setting. After he finished his final song, the band left the stage, but the audience clamored for more, so he returned and played the same song he had just finished playing. I got the impression that the band had been put together quickly and didn't have time to rehearse anything other than the original set.
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Old 08-14-2019, 01:42 PM
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Back around 1972, I saw Elvin Bishop in a festival setting. After he finished his final song, the band left the stage, but the audience clamored for more, so he returned and played the same song he had just finished playing.
"Encore" does literally just mean "again," after all.

Encores, like standing ovations, are no longer special things brought on by an audience's reaction to an outstanding performance. They're just routine social obligations.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:09 PM
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Elvis Presley didn't do encores. He came out, sang the set of songs he planned on, and then left. But the audience was used to performers coming back for an encore so they stayed, expecting Presley to return. This was the origin of the announcement that "Elvis has left the building" - they were telling the audience that, no fooling, the concert was really over and they should leave.
Didn't The Beatles usually have a "no encores" policy at their concerts as well?

The Simpsons parodied this trend in an episode; Nelson attended an Andy Williams concert, at the end of which, he remarked, "I thought he would never sing 'Moon River', but then, BAM!, second encore!"
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:17 PM
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A thread from a few years ago where I asked if anyone had ever seen a band not play an encore.
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=787022
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Old 08-15-2019, 05:37 AM
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On one of Marillion's live albums, towards the end of the show the singer says something like "instead of playing this little game where we go off stage for a few minutes then come back out, we're gonna just keep playing. Is that ok with you?"
Nothing More does this as well. Audience was happy, but still called for an encore, en though the lights had already come up.

I think for some bands it gives them a chance to put on a clean shirt, stop at the bathroom, and then play 3-5 more songs. Many bands will have an extended drum solo and then an acoustic part somewhere in the middle, which also gives the rest of the band a chance to get off the stage for a few minutes.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:51 AM
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I went to see Elvis Costello in 1987 (I believe), when he was touring with Nick Lowe. They were both playing solo. Lowe did his set, then Costello took over and did a decent set of about 45 minutes. (Remember, most of his songs are quite short.) The couple we were with left before the encore to beat the traffic.

When Costello came back on stage after a few minutes, he brought his big wheel out and invited audience members to come up and spin it to select what songs he would play. (One bright guy, when asked what his name was, replied, "Declan MacManus.") Anyway,Costello continued this for at least another 30 minutes. He finally left the stage and the reappeared with Lowe to do "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?" as a second encore.

When they learned of this, the couple who left earlier went absolutely nuts.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:39 AM
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Honestly, I think they're kind of dumb and wish they didn't exist. I totally get why the artist does it though.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:47 AM
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It would be funny if a performance sucked so bad that when the band came out for the obligatory encore, folks started booing and yelling "Get off the stage!"
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:23 PM
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I remember seeing Dick Dale in Amsterdam some years ago. When he finished the set, he said: please don't ask for an encore, we just played three and a half hours...there isn't going to be one.



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I've seen Dick Dale. He's great but Sheesh. I bet he could have improved the show by 50% if he took a little break at 3 hours and called the rest an encore. No harm no foul nothing to gripe about.
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Old 08-15-2019, 01:50 PM
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I think for some bands it gives them a chance to put on a clean shirt, stop at the bathroom, and then play 3-5 more songs. Many bands will have an extended drum solo and then an acoustic part somewhere in the middle, which also gives the rest of the band a chance to get off the stage for a few minutes.
Or, more famously, gives the band a chance to have sex with groupies under the stage. I'm looking at you, Def Leppard!
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:22 PM
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On one of Marillion's live albums, towards the end of the show the singer says something like "instead of playing this little game where we go off stage for a few minutes then come back out, we're gonna just keep playing. Is that ok with you?"
Don Henley did the same thing. He said instead of playing two more songs they could play three.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:01 PM
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When did James Brown start doing his cape routine?
I know you're asking what YEAR, but when I read this I was reminded of when I saw him. He started the cape routine about halfway through the first song. A LITTLE too early for a, "Can't do no more!" routine, in my opinion. The crowd's as well, it seemed. He was the headliner at an all-day show and ppl were leaving.
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Old 08-16-2019, 12:31 AM
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I'm not sure that there's any particular etiquette or expectations of encores at classical music concerts. If there's a "big draw" soloist, it's more likely than not, but not always. I was at a performance with Joyce Di Donato as the star soloist in the first half, but though the audience loved the performance and didn't want to let her go - no encore. But the orchestra (the National Youth Orchestra of the USA as it happens ) did at the end of the whole concert. I've been at BBC Proms concerts where both happened - and sometimes the encore can be even more memorable than the performance that inspired the audience applause in the first place:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpN2k5zz81o
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:06 AM
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the stones voodoo lounge tour at the rose bowl

the "encore" was the second half of the concert ...

what they did was play all the mid 80s and 90s new and newer stuff first it was about 90 minutes and they said good night and everyone was looking like WTF.... wheres the old stuff everyone went for? ..... that was the encore they played the old stuff in 3-4 song burst and acting like it was over every 20 minutes for an hour in a half until mick said .." anything else we missed? no? ok goodnight for real and thanks fir making this fun ater all these years ........
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Old 08-16-2019, 05:42 AM
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I heard about Boston after they only had 1 album out played all the songs and then did an encore with a few more songs. Then they said "we don't have anything else to play" and left.
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Old 08-16-2019, 01:04 PM
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Led Zeppelin comeback in the 90s (actually Page and Plant No Quarter Unledded era). 20 000 people in the arena, fantastic atmosphere, fantastic concert.

After the set, people were clapping and screaming, screaming, screaming for 45 minutes, refusing to leave, but the band did not come back.

I heard later that Jimmy Page saw a red dot from a laser pointer on him and got scared.
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Old 08-16-2019, 08:54 PM
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saw Willie Nelson last year, no encore. 80 minutes and then he shook hands of the people in front.
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Old 08-17-2019, 07:22 PM
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It would be funny if a performance sucked so bad that when the band came out for the obligatory encore, folks started booing and yelling "Get off the stage!"
My favorite encore story, which I've probably told here before, isn't quite like that, but still insulting (and deservedly so) to the band.

This would have been at the WHFStival in 1999 or 2000, a full day of one band after another, each doing just a handful of songs before relinquishing the stage to the next band. The concluding act was the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They're a good band, but they pretty much phoned it in that evening. The stadium was already starting to empty during their last number, and by the time they came out for their encore, the stadium was maybe half empty, and the half that was still there were mostly trying to leave. Nobody was making noise to try to get the band to come out for the encore, but it must've been in the contract, because they came out after the usual wait, and played their encore as what was left of the crowd headed for the exits.
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Old 08-18-2019, 11:00 AM
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It is not universal, although it happens as you describe 98.5% of the time, at least with the vast majority of the bands I see live.
Blue Man Group lampshades this in their How to be a Megastar tour: Rock Concert Movement #78 -- The Fake Ending. It provided a break between the high-energy I Feel Love and the elegiac Exhibit 13. The images are papers that fell from the sky at BMG headquarters in Brooklyn on September 11, 2001.
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Old 08-18-2019, 12:14 PM
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Several years ago I saw John Lee Hooker play in a small club, and he did the expected encore thing and left the stage. But the audience was having none of it, we kept stomping, cheering, and carrying on for several minutes after he left the stage the second time (and the house lights had come up) until he finally brought the band back out, said "Y'all are crazy" and played Boom Boom again (probably because they were out of songs that the band had practiced). I think it might have been the most genuinely spontaneous encore I've ever seen.
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Old 08-18-2019, 12:40 PM
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Martin Mull Live! In Your Living Room plays with the concept.
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Old 08-18-2019, 04:59 PM
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It would be funny if a performance sucked so bad that when the band came out for the obligatory encore, folks started booing and yelling "Get off the stage!"
I guess you've never been to the opera, where critical audience members (the fanboys of the operatic world) will either boo unmercifully or worse, make the hapless performer sing a problematic aria over again until they get it right.

Miles Davis didn't do no damn encores.

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Old 08-18-2019, 05:51 PM
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Has anyone seen an opening act do an encore?
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Old 08-19-2019, 09:57 AM
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Has anyone seen an opening act do an encore?
I saw Lynard Skynard open for ZZ Top in Pittsburgh years ago. I was with a friend who worked for RCA. She said we could go backstage after the show "if I wanted".

It was a weeknight show. Near the end of ZZ Top's set, she told me the bands would be doing a combined encore, and it would be a full set. She had to get up early the next morning, was tired, so she left.

I stayed for the entire show (it was great) but without her I couldn't go backstage.
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:10 PM
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Several years ago I saw John Lee Hooker play in a small club, and he did the expected encore thing and left the stage.
I was fortunate enough to have gotten the chance to see John Lee Hooker twice before he passed, both times in San Francisco, both times alongside Van Morrison, the first time only as an unannounced special guest who Van brought out for just a couple of songs, but the second time in June of 1999 was at a one day music festival in Golden Gate Park, sponsored by Guinness that featured "Irish" music and culture.

It was quite a day, with music simultaneously on 3 different stages, including John Prine, Ben Harper & Innocent Criminals, Dave Alvin, Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, Martin Sexton, Taj Mahal and a dozen others.

I remember that nearly every act that I saw made a point of mentioning what an honor it was for them to share a stage with a living legend like John Lee Hooker, which I am sure made Van Morrison really happy...
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Old 08-19-2019, 01:28 PM
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It would be funny if a performance sucked so bad that when the band came out for the obligatory encore, folks started booing and yelling "Get off the stage!"

That actually happened when I went to see Rush on their Counterparts tour. Blue Oyster Cult was opening and they were terrible! They go off stage and the crowd starts getting excited for Rush to come out. Apparently, BOC thought we were asking for an encore. They came out to a boatload of boos and quickly performed ONE song and hightailed it out of there!
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Old 08-19-2019, 02:20 PM
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When Tool toured ~6 years ago they did not have any encores. I knew this ahead of time so my wife and I were among the first ones out of the stadium and parking lot. The lights are on people, Maynard isn't coming back.
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Old 08-21-2019, 11:22 AM
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On one of Marillion's live albums, towards the end of the show the singer says something like "instead of playing this little game where we go off stage for a few minutes then come back out, we're gonna just keep playing. Is that ok with you?"
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Don Henley did the same thing. He said instead of playing two more songs they could play three.
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Nothing More does this as well. Audience was happy, but still called for an encore, en though the lights had already come up.
Donald Fagen did this too when I saw Steely Dan back in February, something along the lines of:
"At this point in the evening we normally finish up, then you guys go wild for a few minutes, then we come back on and play a few more songs for you. Whaddya say we not bother with all that crap and just keep going?"
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Old 08-21-2019, 05:27 PM
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Has anyone seen an opening act do an encore?
Not exactly an opening act, but someone other than the headliner at a charity show. Iggy Pop was the penultimate act at a Rock For Choice show in the 90s, (sandwiched between Rancid and The Offspring) and was the only one of the 4 artists to do an encore (and it was a real encore, not a save-the-big-hit-for-last fake encore, as the lights had come on and then went back off).

Also hometown favorites The Blasters played "American Music" as their encore when they opened for The Kinks in 1985 at the LA Memorial Sports Arena (RIP)

At a show on the Purple Rain tour, Prince and the Revolution did the usual obligatory encore. The curtain came down, the lights came on, people started leaving. While the lights were on, they resumed playing from behind the curtain for about another 20 minutes. All new stuff that nobody recognized, some of which eventually turned up on the next album (Around the World in a Day)

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Old 08-21-2019, 05:38 PM
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Aerosmith was one of my favorite bands. That was until I saw them at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis in late '78. The sound sucked. Joe Perry fell and rolled across the stage after jumping off of the drum kit stand and left the stage for a couple of songs. At the end, Tyler had the audacity to say "I hope we passed the audition!" They left the stage and the lights came up immediately. It was the only time I ever heard a major act get booed.

I guess the best encore I ever saw was Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe Cocker, and B.B. King at Lakewood in Atlanta. Stevie and B.B. played their guitars, and Joe grimaced along.
  #46  
Old 08-26-2019, 03:32 PM
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In 1994, I saw a band called IQ at a local club. They played their set, then came out for an encore of a couple of songs, as expected. They left the stage again, the lights came up, and people started filing out - when suddenly the band came back out and played one more song.

On one of Marillion's live albums, towards the end of the show the singer says something like "instead of playing this little game where we go off stage for a few minutes then come back out, we're gonna just keep playing. Is that ok with you?"
Was that IQ show in San Jose?
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Old 08-26-2019, 03:53 PM
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That actually happened when I went to see Rush on their Counterparts tour. Blue Oyster Cult was opening and they were terrible! They go off stage and the crowd starts getting excited for Rush to come out. Apparently, BOC thought we were asking for an encore. They came out to a boatload of boos and quickly performed ONE song and hightailed it out of there!
So, were they all chanting, "No more cowbell!"?

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Old 08-26-2019, 06:55 PM
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Was that IQ show in San Jose?
Yep!
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Old 08-28-2019, 09:35 AM
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Yep!
Man I still regret missing that show. In 1994, I lived across the street from the Cabaret in the Oakwood Apartment Complex. My fitness club was next door to the Cabaret. After workouts,I'd look at the Cabaret's little window showing upcoming concerts and remember seeing IQ's promo picture, not realizing they were a prog band. A few months later I moved back east and my friend tells me about this great band IQ and plays me some of their stuff. I hit the floor. I could have seen them on the Ever Tour!!!!
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Go wherever you can be
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Old 08-31-2019, 07:25 PM
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I saw Colin Hay in a small venue in Atlanta maybe 10 years ago, and he told us that he doesn't do encores. He said something along the lines of "If you do an encore, you leave the stage and got out in the alley for a minute, then go back in. Wha's the point? And there's always one drunk guy already in the alley who says 'they threw you out too?'"
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