Encore! Encore! If you’ve been put under the seductive spell of a band you adore, at the end of their set, you’ll know the magic of the encore. But can you remember where you first learnt this fantastic French phrase? Nope, neither can we. Encores are so entrenched in society, that it seems they’ve always been there. So, what are the rules when it comes to encores? If you’re about to pop off on tour, and are ready to sum-up this socially-expected setlist staple – never fear. We, at Zimrii, present the ultimate guide to help you storm your encore.
If you’re a music lover (and of course, if you’re here on our Zimrii blog, we’ll assume you are) you’ll know there’s no better burst and release of emotions than when you watch your most-loved-in-the-world band on stage. We bet this was the reason you started a band, right? There’s actually lots of scientific evidence that music, whether you perform it or listen to it, strengthens our social bonds. So, now that you’re in the perfect position to decide whether or not you should play one – we know you’ll want to storm your encore. So, there are a few things you must consider first.
So, where did it come from?
First, a brief history of the enchantment that is the encore. In a shock that’s not-quite-as-big as the translation of the Lion King into; encore is actually a french word, meaning “again”. So when you yell encore, you’re literally just yelling “Again! Again!”. Because of this, you’d think that the tradition started in France, but, you’d be wrong. In fact, these days in France, they yell “BIS!” instead of encore. Confusing. It’s generally thought that the encore began in the classical music days, when the world began to see composers and musicians as trailblazers, heroes and people of interest – but you can actually trace the encore back as far as the operas of Ancient Rome.
How do I know if I should play an encore?
Of course, modern ones (especially when you’re looking to storm your encore) come with their own set of rigid rules. There are a whole load of dos-and-don’ts, but we’ve gathered the most important. We’ve even organised them into bullet-points for you.
- DON’T – Play an encore if you’re not the headline band. No-one will book a support band who’ve previously upstaged the headliners. You’re here to make friends, and fans; not to be Ziggy Stardust.
- DO – Save your punchiest, most popular songs for last. We’ll go into further detail about this further down, but safe to say – they’ll have the biggest impact.
- DON’T – Milk your applause too much. You want to find a balance between applause and intrigue. Put it this way; there’ll be time for refreshments – there won’t be time for the toilet.
- DO – Let the audience know they’ve pulled you back out. You’re there for them, after all.
- DO – Run to time. These days, curfews and time-limits exist. Stick to them. Gone are the days of epic encores. If your plan is to play an encore – leave some space for it at the end of your set; or face the plug being pulled on your sound.
- DON’T – Go back out if the venue say no. It’s their house, after all. Most venue promoters know each other, and it’s a sure fire way to get your band blacklisted.
Right, I spoke to my band! We’re gonna do it!
Brilliant! Now, make sure you make it count. There’s an art to the encore that we can’t deny. These days, it should be considered an extension of your setlist; so if you have a few tasty hit-tracks, leave your fans without one or two of these songs. This will do a couple of things; one – get them to scream for more, two – get them to stick around.
No-one wants to miss your Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Nirvana’s most famous encore at Reading Festival in 1992 infamously included seven songs; Dumb, Stay Away, Spank Thru, Love Buzz, The Money Will Roll Right In, D-7 & Territorial Pissings. Whilst you probably won’t have time to play seven songs, Kurt’s format is a good one to follow. Slower hit, faster hit (or cover), ultimate counter-culture significant banger. Basically, you want to end with a crowd that jumps up and down. One that can’t deny the spirit of the music.
Do this and you’ll storm your encore. Who knows, it could end up as infamous as your show!
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Also published on Medium.