Why do people like to hear familiar songs at concert shows?

At first thought it makes sense but when I think about it, it doesn’t.

When I go to concerts what I really want is to hear my favorite songs. All those that I’ve listened to a hundred times already.
I’ve realized most people seem to be the same - they get more excited to hear songs they know the lyrics to. And when the band would announce the next song as “brand new”, I can’t help but silently groan.

But why is listening to familiar stuff more exciting? (or is it?)

Because most people enjoy what they know.

Even when you get that new album from your favorite band, it takes listening to it several times to pick out your new favorites.

Most people don’t like paying to go to a concert to evaluate new material. They want to be entertained with the pieces they already know they like.

It’s easier to dance and sing along if I know the songs.

I go to a concert to hear music I already know I like. Introducing a new song only works if I like the song. With that said, I’ve been to venues where someone blows me away with a new song or a different cover of a song that is over-the-top great. If the something new is a great song then that will be remembered as the highlight of the show.

I wanna hear Free Bird ONE MORE TIME!!!

Because it’s also exciting to hear a song you know, but with a different arrangement, instrumentation, or solo performed by the original artist. It can add a whole new dimension to a song you already love.

I remember my disappointment when I saw Dire Straits, and their arrangement for “Tunnel of Love” was identical, note-by-note, to their live version of it off the Alchemy album (recorded a decade earlier). It made it feel like they could do the song in their sleep and were just operating on auto-pilot in performing it.

Alas, newer music fans expect live songs to sound exactly like the recording. It used to be that the big point was that the songs were different live.

At the same time, if you like a song, you like to hear it more than once.

There’s also the visual excitement of watching the band perform. There’s rapport they have with the audience and the patter between songs.

You also have the chance to hear new songs.

Because their new stuff sucks.

I take it you’ve never heard of AC/DC. They sound exactly the same live as in their recordings. Hell, even a new singer didn’t change their sound much.

I’ve been to countless concerts, seriously well over 100 shows, so hopefully my perspective will help some. The biggest thing, I think is that songs that people know from concerts are tried and true classics that most fans of that band–or at least the genre if they don’t know them and are there to see a nother band–can enjoy. With new songs, it’s often hit and miss because the band or label may think it will do well, but it’s not really until they see the fans react to or ask for a song that they know how it will be received. That said, sometimes a new one is dead on, and it’s fantastic.

Also, the main reason I go to concerts is to really relish in the energy and experience of the music. Part of that is being able to sing along or know which parts of the song have epic solos, lyrics, breakdowns, whatever. Seriously, being able to sing along to a favorite song in unison with the crown is the sort of experience that gives me chills. This simply isn’t possible with new songs unless it’s particularly catchy and predictable which, at least for me, makes it difficult to enjoy because I’m not a fan of those things.

Concerts are noisy. Between so-so mixing, crowd noise, parts lost in the live translation and all, sometimes even a great song is difficult to really follow effectively. With a song that I already know, even when it gets muddled by a bad sound crew, I can still follow it and enjoy it. If it’s a piece I don’t know, I can get lost and confused when that happens.

Finally, if I’m there to see the band, I like that band because of certain songs; I want to hear those songs. If I’m going to pick out a handful of songs that I hear more often than others anyway, why wouldn’t I want to hear those songs live? In some cases, seeing a live version can even help add to my appreciation because I can see which parts are perhaps more difficult or are really meaningful to the band. As an example, seeing the vocalist close his eyes and really focus on the words rather than doing all the stage movement, or seeing the guitarist lay his head back during a passionate solo or similarly seeing his crazy finger movement on a complex one… it adds a whole new level of depth to the piece for me and can make a song I already love even better.

Going to see a band is like knowing someone over the phone or Internet and then meeting them in real life.

And live music just sounds better, but you want to know the words to sing or dance along.

Moving from IMHO to Cafe Society.

Because those familiar songs are what made me like the singer/group enough to pay money to see them live and it’s nice to be able to share in the moment of those songs being sung direct from the singer’s mouth to my ears. It’s a shared moment that has some meaning to me even if, by necessity, the singer can’t feel the same about every individual fan.

Brings to mind the first time I saw the Grateful Dead. I was pretty much a novice, having heard maybe 2 or 3 of their songs on the radio. And lo and behold, they played exactly zero songs with which I had any familiarity until they got to Not Fade Away, which I knew (but had no idea it was in their repertoire). Still had a great time, and by the time I got 10 or so shows under my belt a few years later, I had a pretty good handle on their catalog of songs.

Pretty much this. I’m probably slower on the uptake than most people, and unless a song has extremely blatant hooks I won’t get much out of it the first time I hear it.

My best experience of this was at a Dashboard Confessional concert (no big surprise there.) They recently had recorded a cover of Summer of 69, so recently I dont think it had been released at that point.

When he started, I had three thoughts:
– Since it’s a Dashboard concert, there will be at least one singalong part
– I bet I know what that part will be
– It would be totally awesome if the crowd is able to sing along with it even though none of us knew he was going to be playing it

And sure enough, on the last line before the chorus, he stopped singing and the crowd in unison shouted “Those were the best days of my life”.

For the exact same reason you listened to those songs the first hundred times. When you like a song, you don’t listen to it a few times and then say to yourself, “OK, I know that song now – don’t need to hear it again ever, I want something new”. You listen to it again and again because you like it. Why should you suddenly operate differently just because you’re at a concert?

I see a lot of concerts at local clubs featuring bands I’ve never heard of. It’s exciting to discover new music live.

My favorite artist is Richard Thompson. I’ve seen him twice in concert. Both times, the bulk of the concert was spent not playing his usual material. The first time was his 1000 Years of Popular Music, where he covered songs of the previous millennium. The second time he played songs from The Dream Attic before it had been released.

I’ve always said that the day I stop looking for new music is the day I should be put out to pasture. If I want to hear the same old tunes, I’ll listen to the albums. I go to concerts to hear new music.

I like new tracks in concert, but once you get to the fourth or so new track in a row, they all start blending together and all start to sound the same. If the band punctuates a set with 4-6 new tracks (not all in a row), then I’m perfectly happy.

Honestly, I think one big factor, at least if you’re talking about overall crowd reaction to familiar songs, is the simple fact that there is usually a good chunk of the crowd that isn’t “diehard” fans of the band. I mean, you’ve got the serious fans who have all or most of the band’s albums and are familiar with all or most of their songs and are happy to hear all of it.

But then there are the people in the audience who are just there because it’s this weekend’s concert, or who just came with a friend or significant other. These people are there for the concert experience, and would be there regardless of who was playing (there’s a popular outdoor concert venue near me, and I know several people who go there every weekend during concert season, no matter who’s playing), or they’re only there because that’s where their friends are tonight. They may own none of the band’s albums, or maybe just the band’s one or two most popular albums, or just a single or two. And so that’s why, when, say, Rush gets to “Tom Sawyer”, the crowd noise spikes. Almost everybody has heard that song. I’ll bet just about every band has that one song that, if you’ve only heard one of their songs, it’s that one.