How common are impromptu encores in music?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t go to a ton of concerts. But the ones I do go to always seem to have encores at the end – planned encores. It’s always very obvious because the venue lights stay down when the band has left the stage after the main performance, but as soon as the (last) encore is finished, the lights come up immediately.

Now, I’m certainly not going to complain that the band I enjoy is going to play some more music, especially considering what concert tickets can cost. But what’s the point of this display? Is it to give the musicians a chance to get a sip of something an enjoy the audience appreciation? Are there musicians who truly wouldn’t or haven’t returned to the stage for a planned encore because they didn’t think the audience cheered loudly enough? And finally, are there musicians out there who still do unplanned encores, purely as an acknowledgment of the crowd’s reaction?

Just curious.

I’d say it is around 50% encore with the indie shows I’ve been too. It always happens with the really big acts, though. Modest Mouse and Arcade fire, especially, put on an amazing encore set. Both didn’t see planned.

The best encore I’ve ever witnessed was Okkervil River. I wasn’t really into them at the time, but it appears that the encore consisted of fan favorites and a few Will+acoustic only numbers. Actually, that seems to be it with indie bands. They tour with the latest album, but once they get a big enough following, encores are expected of non-album tracks. It’s a way to do whatever the hell you want, in a way, since a lot of people at the shows are recent fans from the last album. For example, David Vandervelde did a spectacular cover of a Neil Young song as an encore, since covers are sort of frowned on anymore in your regular set.

New Year’s Eve, 1979 at Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia was the last one I remember where it was clearly the band wanting to play more. It was a double bill with Rossington-Collins Band. About 1am the houselights came on and the bands still played. About 3am, the show was over, but there was a break where Charlie Daniels left the stage and the audience stayed and cheered. They came back, played left the stage later, the lights came on, more cheering, and they came back out and played for another couple hours.

SSG Schwartz

I’m also very intrigued by this question. I’ve been to many concerts since 2000 and all of the encores seem to have been pre-arranged. The bands have ranged from arena-rock bands to “big-name” indie rock bands.