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Point: Keep the Encores Coming!

Point Counterpoint The Boot Taste of Country

“You never leave a concert before the encore.”

As I remember it, that was the first piece of concert-going advice that my father gave me, late one night, in the middle of a crowded amphitheater. And so, dutifully, we stood there together as whatever artist we were seeing bounded offstage, as the house lights stayed low, as the audience cheered, until the band came back out for (at least) one more song.

In the 1960s and ’70s, when my dad was growing up and learning the rules of concert-going for himself, those words mattered a bit more than they do today; encores were more of an unscripted thing and less of an expected thing. And yet, in 2017, even as plenty of people duck out pre-encore to beat traffic or whatever, you’ll find me, always, standing there until the lights come up and the crew starts breaking down the stage.

"Tacking an extra song or two onto a setlist would accomplish the same thing as an encore, but it wouldn’t feel the same."

Because, as magical as the concert itself is, an encore is extra magical. During a World Tour stop in early 2015, Garth Brooks took requests from the crowd during his encore; on her Keeper of the Flame Tour in 2016, Miranda Lambert brought her special guests out for a big sing-a-long to end the night; Thomas Rhett is covering Bruno Mars to close out his Home Team Tour. Encores — the best ones, at least — give the audience something they didn’t expect to see.

True, even those unexpected moments are, these days, anticipated, scripted and expected. Still, there’s something special about an encore. Tacking an extra song or two onto a setlist would accomplish the same thing — a longer setlist — but it wouldn’t feel the same. Encores are encores because of the build-up: the dimmed lights, the cheering, the artist’s triumphant return, the excitement of wondering what song she’ll play …

The crowd doesn’t want the concert to end, and the encore gives concertgoers a chance to delay their re-entry into the outside world for just a few more precious minutes. It gives the show finality. And it leaves the crowd happy and satisfied.

The Boot and Taste of Country’s collaborative Point / Counterpoint series features staff members from the two sites debating topics of interest within country music once per month. Check back on April 20 for another installment.

COUNTERPOINT: Encores No More!

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NEXT: Is Country Music Really Getting Dumber?

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