As the touring musicians out there know, almost anything can happen at a show, from crowd surfing guys in dinosaur suits to pyrotechnical mishaps to crazy weather. I learned of another while reading the Riverfront Times A to Z blog coverage of the Kings of Leon show in Saint Louis last night, which was apparently cancelled due to problems with pigeon droppings hitting the band during their performance. The tweets by drummer Nathan Followill give you an idea of how bad things were for the band:
@doctorfollowill So sorry St. Louis. We had to bail, pigeons shitting in jareds mouth. Too unsanitary to continue.
@doctorfollowill Don’t take it out on Jared, it’s the fucking venues fault. You may enjoy being shit on but we don’t. Sorry for all who traveled many miles.
What a gross situation for the band. Apparently the fans were not too happy when the band cancelled their performance after only 3 songs. Livenation is providing fans with refunds, and the band is promising to return and make up the show. Kings of Leon released the following press release today through their publicist:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PIGEON INFESTATION FORCES KINGS OF LEON OFFSTAGE EARLY IN ST. LOUIS
An infestation of pigeons living in the rafters of the Verizon Amphitheatre in St. Louis, MO, forced the Kings of Leon to walk offstage after three songs last night. Even though opening bands The Postelles and The Stills came offstage complaining of getting riddled with large amounts of pigeon excrement, the Kings of Leon decided to carry on regardless. The band felt it would be unfair to the fans to cancel the show at that late moment.
“I’m surprised they stayed on for as many songs as they did,” said Andy Mendelsohn of Vector Management. “Jared was hit several times during the first two songs. On the third song, when he was hit in the cheek and some of it landed near his mouth, they couldn’t deal any longer. It’s not only disgusting — it’s a toxic health hazard. They really tried to hang in there. We want to apologize to our fans in St. Louis and will come back as soon as we can.”
When the band arrived earlier in the day, the venue warned management that there had been a significant pigeon infestation problem with summer shows over the years, but they were doing all they could to fix it.
“We couldn’t believe what The Postelles and The Stills looked like after their sets,” said Jared Followill. “We didn’t want to cancel the show, so we went for it. We tried to play. It was ridiculous.”
Kings of Leon are headed to Chicago tonight to perform at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre as scheduled.
Sounds like there might be a problem with pigeons at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, but dealing with pigeons can be frustrating, as I learned when they would crap on my apartment balcony when I lived in Saint Louis. When I asked at Home Depot how to best get rid of them, the guy honestly told me the only thing you could do was shoot them. Just putting it out there, Livenation, you might have a tough time.
This begs the question, how can you try to avoid such problems if you’re touring? One way you can try to ensure that things go smoothly is by specifying certain needs, from food to insurance, in the contract with the venue or promoter if you have one (which you ideally should). This includes the rider, which I suspect Kings of Leon’s management is currently updating to include that the performers not be exposed to bird droppings while performing. For those of you unfamiliar with a rider, it is the provision in the contract that the act has with the venue or promoter containing the act’s requests for particular food, drinks, furniture, power, phone lines, etc to be provided to the band or performer. There are legendary stories of different artists’ rider requests, such as Van Halen’s request that no brown M&M’s be placed in their dressing room, which I have on good authority to be true. Riders are also said to be included in the contract to make sure that the promoter or venue has actually read the contract and abides by it. For a good read, check out the rider and catering requests from Metallica’s 2004 tour over at the Smoking Gun. I love that they have to have bacon at every meal, cracks me up. I also enjoy the Little Red Riders Book, it’s a quick and funny read. Of course, you can put all kinds of requests in your rider, and crazy things will still happen sometimes out there. I think being prepared to deal with unexpected events, and having a good team around you to help you if they do occur are essential to surviving a tour. I’d love to hear your favorite stories of crazy happenings at shows, out there rider requests, and tips on dealing with tour craziness.