Infinite Shuffle

February 7, 2013

The Vaccines and the nature of encores

Filed under: Concert, V — assman41 @ 4:55 am

When: February 6, 2013

Where: Lincoln Hall (Chicago)

Opening act: San Cisco

So, what exactly is the etiquette when it comes to encores. Should fans just expect them to happen, or do they need to fight for them?

That was the question my friend and I were pondering after watching The Vaccines play a rather blazing set last night. Having listened to the band’s live album earlier in the day, I knew that it might take a little longer for them to return to the stage for an encore.

As it turned out Wednesday night, the band members had played their last note well before anyone in the audience realized it.

This is a phenomenon I’ve never fully grasped. Before I ever started attending concerts, I’d read about encores and had assumed they were exclusive to only the most special of shows. According to a different friend of mine, encores have likely been around as long as there’s been rock ‘n’ roll.

Either way, by the time I was regularly attending concerts, it’d apparently become commonplace for bands to perform encores. And I quickly grew accustomed to the routine of the band leaving the stage, fans cheering for a bit, then eventually chanting “One more song! One more song!” And, without fail, within a minute or two, the band would return to the stage, re-tune their instruments and play anywhere from 1-4 more songs.

But that hasn’t always been the case. When seeing the band, Glasvegas, a few years ago, they weren’t able to do an encore because they only had about 11 songs under their collective hat, so they just played them all — in a less than lively manner I might add — then called it a night.

Another Scottish band took a different tact. I’ve seen the group, We Were Promised Jetpacks, thrice now. At the first show, they left the stage and fans assumed they’d be back shortly. But then the lights came up and that was it. The next two times I saw them, they at least warned fans ahead of time that they don’t do encores, then proceeded to fulfill that promise.

And that’s when I started wondering about the nature of the encore and what its point was. I mean, if basically everyone was doing it, is it really special anymore? Why not just forego it and play all the songs you want to in one fell swoop? Why throw in an unnecessary break just to build some suspense for the last few songs?

And what about the fans who are conditioned to expect an encore? Do we need to be corrected of this bad habit? Should we make sure, if we want an encore, to clap and chant and make it clear to the band that we want to hear more?

Unfortunately, at the end of The Vaccines’ show, the crowd was a little too lackadaisical in its request. There was a brief chant of “Three more songs!” and an even briefer “10 more songs!” but that was about it.

As we eventually filed out of the venue, one guy in the audience applauded the move by the band. To paraphrase his thoughts, when a crowd is really into a show and cheering loudly for an encore, it’s impossible to turn that down.

Maybe that’s all it boils down to. An encore should only happen when both the band and the audience have earned it.

What are your thoughts?

I posted on The Vaccines’ Facebook page asking them why they didn’t play an encore. If they happen to respond, I’ll be sure to update this post.


Based on posts from other fans on Facebook, and a brief status update by the band, lead singer Justin Young’s vocal chords were shot after pushing it too hard during the show. According to one commenter, they had an encore built into their set list, but they had to bail early. It would’ve been nice if someone could’ve at least told us what was going on, but what are ya gonna do?


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