Death to the Encore

Source: 
Weekend America / PublicRadio.org
Author: 
John Moe
Publication date: 
August 11, 2007

Death to the encore

You know the drill: Artist plays music. Artist is showered with applause. Artist leaves the stage. Applause continues. And after a few minutes the artist returns for the encore. But do some bands just not deserve an encore? Weekend America's John Moe talks with John Roderick from the band The Long Winters, Sebastian Bach from the band Skid Row, and Jim Anderson the sound engineer at Seattle's Crocodile Cafe to find out what the encore is all about.

Notes from Senior Reporter John Moe:
I don't normally call attention to the word "senior" that goes before the word "reporter" in my job title because frankly I would rather avoid anything that refers to my getting older (I really hope that Weekend America gave me that title out of respect for my accomplishments and not as a slap at my age but I've never been brave enough to ask). This week's story, however, is very much a senior moment. As I describe in the piece, I went to see one of my favorite bands, The Long Winters, play recently. I've been trying to get out and see more live music, an effort that I hope will let me enjoy city life a bit more while also providing a bulwark against aging. It's sort of a mild mid-life crisis. A cover charge is cheaper than a sports car. At this show, as at all other shows, I dreaded the encore. I never want MORE of a band. I just want them to finish up so I can get home in time for Conan. Maybe I wanted an encore at the Tom Waits show but even then, just barely.

But John Roderick, lead singer of The Long Winters, feels the same way I do, and instead of an encore he just had his band play all their songs and then pack up. No awkwardness of crowds proving their love to artists, no artists lingering backstage for validation, just music. It was a revelation. Going into producing this story, I fully expected John and his band to be in the minority opinion and that everyone else loves the encore. Why else would they be so common? But curiously, everyone I talked to, from Skid Row's Sebastian Bach to the sound guy at the biggest club in Seattle to an anonymous but famous heavy metal frontman to even a fresh-faced band of energetic 24-year-olds, hates the encore. In an institution like rock n' roll where rebellion and defiance are supposed to be founding principles, we are instead bound by tradition, politeness, and tedium.

I call for full scale revolution and an overthrow of the encore tradition. I've started the fire, America, now it's up to you to burn the encore down.

link to streaming audio of interview online