Encore, encore…okay, that's enough

Encore, encore…okay, that's enough April 11, 2011

Fun question for you guys today: What is your maximum limit for turnarounds? How many times does a group have to repeat the chorus of a song for you to get to the point where you’re inwardly groaning, “No, not ANOTHER encore”?
I max out at around three myself. And part of it depends on the song. Three encores of “Boundless Love” or “Still Feelin’ Fine,” I can live with, but for some reason “A Few Good Men” was ruined for me by what seemed like an infinite number of encores, even though it may have been no more than three.

The only way I can tolerate more is if something else interesting is going at the same time. Take, for example, the multiple encores of “Heaven’s Joy Awaits” on the Together video (I think it gets up to around four or five). It could get downright maddening without the visual element, but the visual element enables all sorts of funny business to keep the audience entertained: Ernie runs across the stage, Ernie nearly falls off the stage (thereby giving away the fact that heavy stacks are being used since his voice comes through loud and clear at that moment), Bill goes and plays the piano with Gordon Mote (providing another clue of stacks since there is mysteriously still more than one bass voice in the mix), Bill goes down into the audience to “direct” the guys, etc., etc.  If you can get into the show, you can emerge with your sanity intact after the fifth encore.
But I would not recommend more than three for an ordinary concert, because as much as an audience enjoys a song, they will begin to tire at a certain point. An encore or two can be a great way to keep up the energy, but it’s better to stop when the audience is still enjoying the song than to keep going until they’re sick of it.
Still, I’d like to hear from my readers: What’s your “threshold?”

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Melissa

    My limit is no encores at all. Let your yes be yes, let your nay be nay…and let the end of your song be the end of your song!

  • Steven

    I really believe it depends on three things: the song, the crowd and the singers.
    Even though it may be a “fast” song, sometimes it just doesn’t connect. On occasion, even the most powerful of ballads (think “the Lighthouse” or “Your cries have awoken the master”) just fall flat in a particular setting. I think in those cases that even though the artist is used to doing an encore, they probably should hold off – cause then it just looks silly. I’ve been in concerts where an artist will push the encore and the crowd is just sitting there. You can feel the discomfort glory bumps.
    However, if a crowd is throwing babies, shouting, running the aisles, the band is getting into it (just a little shoutout to live bands), I say give it to them, I know I enjoy it as a fan. It seems that in those moments, when an artist is TRULY feeling the song with the audience – all the troubles you have, all of the “insider knowledge” of the industry you have, anything else that holds you back goes away for those few great encores.
    Of course, some great wisdom I heard one time was always leave the audience wanting a little more – the great artists know how to do that. Cmon’, the cd is ONLY 15.00 tonight – its still not the same, I rather have recorded the encore 🙂

  • Interesting! As I said, I’m willing to go along with one or two and maaaaaybe three. But as for none at all…well, sometimes I do find myself thinking, “Hey I’m really getting into this, and I’d like to hear a little more.”
    Of course, if I can’t stand the song, an encore just makes things worse. 😀

  • quartet-man

    There is no magic number. It depends on the singers, the song, etc. One encore of a song I don’t care for is one too many. 😀 On one of the Gaither videos, Shoutin’ Time kept getting encored and I was happy it kept going. Like you said though, it helps if they add something new to the encore. (Either something they had held back, add people, embellish or whatever).

  • quartet-man

    Steven had some good points. Some program in the encore by design, but there are times that the audience isn’t getting into the song and the purpose of an encore is supposed to be to give the audience what they want.
    Also, bands also make encores better at times because they can rock, speed up, get into the groove or whatever. Encores can still work with tracks, but unless they automatically record one in the studio and do so differently (instead of just editing and adding the same part of the track from the track), it is up to the vocalists to change things up.

  • “Can He, Could He, Would He” by the Cathedrals – is that considered “encoring”? Probably not, as they don’t really stop and start again. But it’s extremely repetitious, and it is absolutely fantastic!
    It just either works, or it doesn’t work. Probably the best approach would be to have numerous people listen to it who weren’t involved in the process of recording it. And having Bill Gaither produce it would undoubtedly help.
    That doesn’t really apply to live music, though!

  • quartet-man

    So, where did this go earlier? ;-P

  • I’m not sure. I think I wanted to tweak it, then ended up logging out without realizing that it had been taken down while I tweaked. Came back later and it was gone, so I put it back. Sorry ’bout that.

  • NWBaritone

    I’m with Melissa, save the encore. I would prefer not to see the encore and generally I will leave before the encore.

  • You mean you’d walk out on a show the moment they began to encore anything?

  • Melissa

    I think I’d better clarify my position here. When I say that I don’t like encores, I’m referring to the repeated tagging of a particular song, i.e. the song stops, the applause starts, then the singer or singers start singing all or a portion of the same song again…and again…and again… This is an extreme example, but on the Gaither Dottie Rambo tribute DVD, they discussed how Whitney Houston had once tagged “I Go To The Rock” something like 15 or 20 times. Now, I loved just about everything Dottie wrote, but the song hasn’t been written that I can bear to hear repeated that many times, and in fact, I tend to skip that song on the DVD and the accompanying CD because even the Homecoming folks got a little carried away there. After years of enduring that sort of thing at concerts, both Christian and secular, I finally came to the conclusion that once around the block was plenty enough for me. But on the other hand, when it comes to end-of-the-concert encores, if the act is one I’m really crazy about, then they can encore until the cows come home, and I’ll sit and listen — just as long as they’re not singing the same song the entire time!

  • Yeah, I feel the same way. It seemed like you were saying you wouldn’t stand for even one. 🙂