Encores. What’s the point? When you’ve been standing in the rain for two hours, do you really want to mug about for another 15 minutes, while the band do the same backstage, before coming back on to do a few more tracks? At Optimus Alive festival this weekend, the Cure played a total of three encores- eleven tracks. Who wants that?
Encores are about as elegant as getting changed under a towel at the beach. Everyone knows exactly what’s happening, and what the end result will be, but yet the clumsy ritual continues. It’s bad enough when it’s a huge show, and lights and music at least help to keep the crowd interested. But when it’s at a small club show, it’s just embarrassing. Watching the group close a set, and then shuffle off down the side of the stage, to stand in a corridor, before sheepishly taking to the stage again? Why not just stay put and play longer?
At a Laura Marling gig at Camden Barfly around the time of ‘I Speak…’, I witnessed Marling disperse entirely with encores. “Everyone knows what’s going to happen,” she announced. “So just pretend I’ve gone and come back again”. At Bestival a few years ago, Elbow decided on a different method. Guy Garvey bellowed from the stage, “Encores are rubbish. If you want us back, you’ll have to work for it” (Or something to the effect). Elbow then set a challenge. Once the crowd had hummed the tune to Star Wars thoroughly enough, they’d return for a few more closing songs.
That’s the way to do it. Either disperse with the convention, or play with it. Just don’t make us wait.