Rock and roll brings to mind wild partying and tough guys (and gals). So what drove Grammy-winning rockers Kings of Leon to cut short their concert at St. Louis’ Verizon Amphitheatre on Friday night? Pigeons. Or, more accurately, pigeon poop.
Apparently, the birds have taken up residence in the rafters above the stage. The two opening bands played their sets despite a shower of droppings, and the spray didn’t let up when Kings of Leon came on. Jared Followill, the band’s bassist, seems to have taken the brunt of the droppings.
The aerial attack began during the opening song -- "Closer" -- when he was bombed in the face. His bass tech wiped most of it off with a sanitary wipe, he said. Excrement struck each of his arms over the next two numbers, he said. "I was hit by pigeons on each of the first three songs," he said. "We had 20 songs on the set list. By the end of the show, I would have been covered from head to toe."
Followill said he couldn't see the pigeons above him and he had no idea how many there were. "The last thing I was going to do was look up ... but if that was only a couple, we must have caught them right after a big Thanksgiving dinner," he quipped.
Birds like rafters, whether in ball fields, amphitheaters, or airplane hangars. While there’s no sure-fire way to keep birds out, some ballparks, like Wrigley Field, have installed special nets to keep them from roosting in the rafters.
One manufacturer, Bird-Be-Gone, offers other deterrents including bird spikes, an electric shock system (which it says doesn’t harm the creatures), and aerosol mists that spray methyl anthranilate,“a grape extract that naturally occurs in concord grapes, and is used for flavoring grape soda and candies.” The chemical “irritates the trigeminal nerve and mucous membranes of birds when it enters their eyes, nose or mouth.”
(Bird researchers use the stuff, too. Multiple groups have conducted trials in which chicks learn that a bead of a particular shape and/or color has a bitter taste—because it has been coated in 100% methyl anthranilate—and subsequently avoids on further tests.)
Oh, and as for the fans at the Kings of Leon concert? Their night might have been sullied, but not their clothes—bird dropping reportedly only hit the musicians.