Friday, October 30, 2009

The Noncore

I don't know if I invested this when it came into my head after seeing Future of the Left, but I'd like to think I've come up with a decent term for the avoidance of an encore when performing live - the noncore. Future of the Left (and mclusky before them) have mastered the noncore, i.e. playing the last song of the set in a way to preclude the possibility of playing an encore. During their last tune, they proceeded to disassemble the drum kit, and break most of the strings on Falco's guitar for good measure. It demonstrated quite clearly that no more music would be played for the evening.

One other band who does this quite well is Montonix, who I've written about in past posts. For both of the two headlining gigs I saw of theirs, they concluded the show by leading the audience outside of the club and playing their last song outside. It makes for good theatrics and also concludes the show quite clearly. If you're outside of the venue, then there obviously aren't going to be any more songs.

I know of a few other acts who have tried to spice things up - Pixies would on occasion play their encore first then leave the stage. After some confused applause, they would come back and play the full set. And Manic Street Preachers never played encores in the UK (or something like that, but it was because they're real, man!).

I'm not opposed to encore by any means, but it becomes such a rote thing for a lot of bands. If I see roadies on stage tuning guitars 10 seconds after the band leaves the stage, I tend to stop clapping. Why waste my energy? They're going to play more songs. They know it, I know it, we all know it. The least the band can do is not put the encore songs on their set list. Keep at least the thought of spontaneity there. Then let the crowd cheer for a minute or two if they actually enjoyed the show. Because if the show was great, they'll let you know. That's what happened after Future of the Left finished their set - the crowd still cheered for an encore. But it was never gonna happen.

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