Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Open Letter to All Bands and Concert-Goers

Okay, guys. We love you because you provide music to us. Sure, we have to pay to see you in concert, and we have to pay to have your music with us at all times (theoretically...) but we have to have a talk.

Look, I know it's not up to you how much concert tickets cost. I know that's mostly up to the companies like Ticketmaster who provide that service for concert promoters and venues. And I know it's not your fault that the biggest promoter, Live Nation bought Ticketmaster, creating a terrible monopoly wherein the price of concert tickets can rise and rise without check. But, you know, you could have said something. Or you could leave Live Nation and find smaller promoters, ones who can send you to venues who don't use Ticketmaster. Maybe I'm oversimplifying things. But anyway, all that aside, that's actually not what I'm here to talk about. That topic has been done many times by better-informed writers than myself. I'm here to talk about what actually happens at your concerts.

Granted, I haven't been to a good live concert in years (other than a few Rum Drum Ramblers and Pokey LaFarge shows, but I'm talking about national touring acts where I don't know somebody in the band) but I do listen to a lot of live concerts via NPR Music, so I feel I can speak with a small measure of authority on this topic. So, now that I have your very limited and sporadic attention, I'm going to ask you one thing: Please stop building your encore into your show.

Look, the whole idea of an encore has been completely skewed today. It used to be that an encore was something audiences asked for if and only if they felt the main performance was exceptional. In summary, Encores used to be an exception, not a rule.

In olden days, an audience would clap at the end of a performance as the curtain went down/maestro stepped off stage. As the clapping continued and people shouted "Bravo!" the curtain would be lifted or the maestro would return to the stage for more bows. If the applause continued even more, and people were standing, this would be repeated until people either stopped clapping or shouted "Encore!" If that happened, the performers would perform a final piece, usually agreed upon beforehand, or maybe they'd just play the last section of their last piece again. But, if the audience didn't think the original performance was good enough, none or only a few of these things would happen.

I admit, audiences have a hand in the modern concept of the encore. They've come to expect an encore, so you guys hold something back. Could be a fan favorite that everyone expected you to play but you didn't, and hey presto! You come back out on stage and gracefully bestow upon the audience this final gift. "Thought we forgot about this one, eh?" But look...if you plan it, it's not really an encore, is it?

Feel it, guys. Read the audience during the show. If you feel like they're really into it, and want more when you step off stage because you've done a great job (and NOT because they expect it), walk back out there. And audience members: don't expect an encore just because you're at a concert. Only expect it if the band has earned it, and let them know.

We cool? Cool. Thanks.

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Thanks, you guys are awesome!

Hey, so I was wondering...after February, I want to try and blog every day still. I know my February every-day blogs aren't exactly chock full of writing (but I'm getting the rest of this stuff in here for you, so that's something) so what I was thinking was maybe, in March, doing a short story a day? What do you think? It might be daunting, but if I get enough encouragement, I'll totally do it. Let me know in the comments. Oh, and remember, if your comment doesn't show up right away, it's because I have to okay every comment. I've gotten some duplicate comments lately which I think might have something to do with the lag in you posting a comment and me publishing it. I'm not always by my computer (though it may seem like I am since I'm soooo prolific) but I'll get to it!

[walks off blog]
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[roadies start dismantling blog equipment, accidentally dropping the header on someone's toe]

1 comment:

Molly said...

I'm all for more posts if that means more writing! I may not read them daily, but I usually do a "catch up" at least once a week.

Write on!