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  Are encores 'just a big ego stroking' or do they satisfy fans who always 'want the one more' ...

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  For some performers, encores are about taking a smoke break or a toweling down sweaty crotch ...

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  From cheesy covers to overly honest explanations, artists try anything to avoid being clichéd ...

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"I couldn't adjust to the thought of doing encores [at first]," says British hip-hop star Mike Skinner (a.k.a. the Streets). "But actually when it gets down to it, even though it is predictable, that is what people want. Even though they know it's going to happen, they kind of don't know totally, so there's a little bit of surprise."

Satisfying fans, after all, is supposed to be the point of touring. And besides that, encores do serve other purposes. A lot of important things happen in those five or so minutes the group is offstage.

"I drink water, a lot of water," says Musiq. "And I do hot tea when my throat is really sore."

  "... down whatever you're drinking ..." — Bowling for Soup's Jaret Reddick
Other bands drink equally necessary liquids. "We usually use the time to try to down whatever you're drinking so you can get a fresh one, or sometimes just take a shot," Bowling for Soup singer Jaret Reddick muses.

And then there are other vices. "Smoke break," Cold singer Scooter Ward confesses. "That's what encore is for Cold."

Of course, after performing under hot lights for at least an hour (or several hours for bands like Phish or Bruce Springsteen), there are other necessities, like rest.

"It's when everyone's catching their breath," admits New Found Glory drummer Cyrus Bolooki.

"A lot of the times it's trying to dry off a little bit," says Reddick. "Sticking the towel up your crotch."

Good Charlotte use their encores to reflect on the evening. "We just laugh and go, 'Man, this show's awesome,' " Madden says. "It seems like we do that every show. We're just, like, smiling and laughing, going, 'I can't believe this. We're in Minnesota.' "

Madden grew up going to shows by groups like Rancid and NOFX, bands that were too punk to do encores. So when he and his twin brother, Joel, started a band, they tried to avoid them. After playing a few of their fast-paced shows, however, they discovered an advantage to encores.

"If [our fans] are singing their hearts out and they look exhausted, then we'll be like, 'All right, we'll take like a one-minute break,' " Benji says.

But more often it's the artist who's exhausted.

"Sometimes vocally I give too much in my shows that it's almost humanly impossible to sing another song," Musiq says. "I take about a five-minute break and I then I can come back on and go for hours. It's a beautiful thing. I like encores, but they're only good if the audience wants you to come back."

The crowd calling for an encore from a headliner is pretty much a given; it's when the call is especially loud or incessant that it can breathe new life into a tour or even a group.

"We've actually played shows where we'd get off the stage and go on the bus and everybody changes and we're sitting there watching TV and 20, 30 minutes later, people are coming out going, 'Dude, they're still in there yelling,' " Cold's Jeremy Marshall recalls. " 'They're not gonna stop yelling until you go back in.' "

3LW were playing Disney World shows when they first discovered the joy of encores and decided they wanted to tour the world.

"The crowds would just keep cheering for more songs," says Adrienne Bailon. "So management and production would just put another song in, songs that we had never performed before."

Encores can be a great time to introduce or even fine-tune unreleased songs, the logic being that true fans will appreciate hearing a rare nugget or something new.

Linkin Park wrote "My December" while touring, and they introduced it during an encore. It was eventually released on a holiday compilation and in remixed form on Reanimation.

"Up until we released Meteora, we only had one record that was 36 minutes long," Chester Bennington explains. "It was very interesting to fill a headlining slot of an hour and 15 minutes' worth of music ... so we had to really get creative and we pulled a lot of older stuff, songs from our EP and our earlier days, songs that we thought were really strong but didn't make the record."

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