It's high time technology caught up with the rock 'n' roll encore. Because the encore has reached a point of ridiculum. It's a sad bit of predictable choreography that neither the audience nor the band participates with any level of passion.
Case in point: the Jan. 29 show at Brick by Brick by the British rock band, Hard-Fi. This was, by all accounts, a bitchin' little concert. Having recently freed their brains and balls from Clear Channel's empire of suck, 91X took care of the tab for the night. Which meant music fans got to see a band nominated for two Brit Awards-for "Best Group" and "Best Rock Act," no less-for free.
Did we mention that their album Stars of CCTV hit No. 1 on the U.K. charts this week? To see this show at a 400-capacity rock venue for less than the price of a gumball was a once-in-a-year experience.
After a great run through their songs, including local radio hit "Cash Machine," Hard-Fi predictably and half-heartedly said "good night" to San Diego and left the stage.
Fans clapped, but there was no real heart in the clap. Because every single person-save for the severely drunk or mildly retarded-knows how this goes. The band members leave enough to take two sips of beer and text message their city-specific bootie calls before returning to the stage for an average of three more songs.
All it does is taint an otherwise spontaneous, exciting rock show with an insulting exercise in artifice. It's like ending a David Lynch movie with a scene where the protagonist gets the girl and is reacquainted with his long-lost father to the tune of "Wind Beneath My Wings."
Here's how it should work: Every venue should be mandated by law to have a device that registers the level of crowd applause. A large "crowd-o-meter" will be displayed above the stage in neon red lights. When the band says goodnight, the crowd will then have the option of triggering the "encore clause" in their contract.
The louder the crowd gets, the higher the crowd-o-meter will register (sound devices are quite advanced nowadays). The crowd can watch as their uproarious approval makes the crowd-o-meter rise. Once an adequate level of noise is reached, the crowd-o-meter will excitedly flash "ENCORE! ENCORE! ENCORE!" Then-and only then-will the band be required to return to the stage for at least three more songs.
If the crowd-o-meter does not reach adequate encore levels, the band will be forced to get their shit off the stage and leave.
It is the only way we can stop this foolishness. And we can send messages to bands. Such as, "Hey, glad you played your radio hit, but you kinda sucked." Or, "Man, Hard-Fi is really awesome. ENCORE!"
The encore has been stripped of all meaning by a chronic illness known as "routine." Couples who've been married for 27 years and require prescription drugs to reach sexual climax can relate.Revive the rock experience. Call your local club owner and demand they install a crowd-o-meter. We'll all feel better about ourselves.