Ezekiel Encore - Performance Prolonging Visionary

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Submitted by brad on Tue, 08/10/2010 - 01:13

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There was a recent concert by "Simple Minds" on tv the other day.  I couldn't watch it for long, but I also couldn't look away. The HD really made the quiet desperation in their eyes 'pop'. Both from the band and from the aging, balding, sweaty crowd vainly trying to lift their hands above their heads to clap. Before I pried my eyes away (and again thanks to the wonder of HD), I caught a glimpse of the set list taped to the drummers drumset in a large "Senior's Dinner Menu" font. At the bottom was a dashed line followed by two more songs. This was obviously their schdeuled encore, and it reminded me of another social standard that I detest, namely the Encore.  You scheduled a show, I paid $200 to see your show, do your best and leave.  Why am I obligated to stand up partway through and cheer like crazy to get you to come back out and finish?  It's become a mandatory mass ego stroke for the band. 'oh, you're so amazing! I love you! please, please, come out and sing for us again! Forget that crazy world outside. Let us bask in your brilliance and be nourished by it".  Give me a break. It's like a trained seal or Pavlov's dog and if you read my blog at all, you know I hate that.  I paid to see them and I have to perform for them? Forget that. Do your job.  It's so disingenuous. Frankly, most times after the concert, I'm sick of you and ready to go home. I don't want an encore. It should be an encore because they did an amazing job, evoked an emotional response and, in that moment, I truly want to hear more. I need to hear more.  It shouldn't be because "that's what you do". I'm not your puppet.

Who started this trend? Someone had to be the first. I don't imagine it went very well.

"Thank you good people, and fare thee well. Good night"
<applause, then crowd begins to channel out except for one person, standing at the end of the aisle, standing and clapping. The crowd is stopped, confused by this man blocking the aisle. The last member of the band, standing just off stage, signals to the others.>
"Hey, there's a guy out there still clapping."
"Huh?"
"That guy, at the end of the aisle, he's still clapping"
"Does he know the concert's over?"
"I don't..I mean I think so. He must."
"So why's he still clapping?"

I would imagine at this point he was dragged out, sentenced to have holes bored in his head to release the demons, then released. That failed scene probably played out two, three times until inspiration struck!

"Hey, it's that guy again. You know, the clapper. He's saying something this time. It's...it's...'Encore'. He's yelling Encore."
"Encore? What's he mean?"
<crowd is nervous, once again faced with the mentally unstable gentleman, but then realization begins to dawn on their faces.>
"I'm not sure. Wait, now there's someone else yelling it. And another. And another!"
"What's it mean?"
"I think, maybe, they want us to go again?"
"Huh?"
"I think they want us to go back out there."
"But the concert's over."
"I know, but I think they want us to go back out."
"Well what do we do?"
"I don't know, umm...I think maybe we should?"

Success! I'm sure it was a thing of beauty. Fans so moved to want to hear more that they demand it and a band, moved by and greatful for such a heartfelt reaction, that they play with a renewed vigor. It was probably an emotionally charged, immensly satisfying experience for everyone. Now it's just a sad cliche, a perverted dance of master and puppet, an empty, meaningless, mandatory ritual that bands plan, schedule, and expect.

I sense a movement coming on (and it's not just the fajitas I had for supper). EndTheEncore.com. Bring meaning back to the Encore. Do it for you, do it for the band. I'll print up the buttons and t-shirts tomorrow.