News & Politics

National Zoo Concertgoer Hauled Away by Police After Refusing to Sit Down

Some species face extinction. Too bad obnoxious people at concerts aren’t one of them.

One of the National Zoo's resident Sumatran tigers eating the liner notes. Photograph by Connor Mallon for Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Sumatran tigers are threatened with extinction. Unfortunately, boorish humans at rock concerts are thriving in the wild, like one who was hauled off by police at the National Zoo on Monday during a special performance by Portugal the Man.

The Alaska-bred psychedelic pop group was at the zoo to promote the recent “endangered” single it recorded on behalf of the zoo to highlight the peril faced by Sumatran tigers and their Indonesian jungle habitats. About 2,000 people turned out for the free show on a warm evening, and 1,999 of them elected to sit down on the slightly inclined grass in front of the bandshell.

But one kid with a backpack refused, and stood in the front row, blocking a good chunk of the stage as the band started to play. Not surprisingly, the otherwise well-behaved audience started to jeer at him to sit down. Eventually, officers from the National Zoological Park Police asked him to take a seat, but the kid refused. After that, the zoo cops grabbed him and tried to remove him from the crowd. He resisted for about 90 seconds, taking people’s attention away from the stage. The band tried to calm the situation, too.

Zoo spokeswoman Annalisa Meyer says the guy was eventually hauled off and turned over to the Metropolitan Police Department, although it is not clear if he was charged with disorderly conduct. The band apologized for the scene on Twitter and didn’t hold back its dissatisfaction with its rowdy fan.

Portugal the Man released 400 copies of its song, “Sumatran Tigers,” in April on a very-limited edition seven-inch, each copy representing one of the estimated 400 specimens that remain in the wild. The track was pressed on polycarbonate designed to decay after a certain number of plays. People who received copies were asked to digitize the song in order to “breed” it rather than letting it vanish. If only jerks at concerts would go away.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.