The Demise of the True Encore

I was listening to the All Songs Considered podcast of the Sleater-Kinney “before-we-go-on-indefinite-hiatus” tour show at the 9:30 Club, and Bob Boilen mentioned that it was the first time he remembered that when the house lights came up and the house music started playing, the audience just screamed louder, and Sleater-Kinney came back out for a second encore. How cool is that?
That got me to thinking, whatever happened to the encore? I’m not talking about your favorite band leaving the stage after they “finish” their set, and coming back to play a couple more songs. They plan those encores now. That’s why the house lights don’t come on. Take a look at their set list, it has the encore songs planned out in advance. (see this example of the setlist from the May 2006 Chicago Gaelic Park Saw Doctors show) Maybe it’s been done this way for a while, and I’m just now starting to notice, but it used to feel good when, as a fan, we cheered at the top of our lungs and got the band to come back out and play a few more songs. I think at a Garth Brooks concert, he even came back out twice, if I recall. These days, the audience will occasionally cheer, but more often just sit back on their hands and wait for the band to come back out for a few more songs. Then the house lights come up after the encore, and everyone files quietly out. How boring and un-rock-and-roll.
I don’t know what fans can do about it. I suppose that bands could actually forgo an encore if the fans didn’t really get into it, but that would probably just result in annoyed yuppies crying that they didn’t get their three extra songs they think they’re entitled to. Me? I just hope to be there when a band I like is forced back up onto the stage for a second, real encore for a change.