Astroworld Festival: Concert Calamity and the Negligence Behind It

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In recent years, Travis Scott has been recognized as one of the most versatile rappers in his field, proudly embracing the title as an autotune crooner through projects such as Rodeo and the otherworldly Astroworld.

With the immense success of Astroworld, the annual Astroworld Festival was launched and became a yearly musical fest, supported by entertainment company Live Nation. However, during last year’s Astroworld concert on Nov. 5, in Houston, Texas, chaos emerged as many concertgoers took to social media to describe the terrifying mayhem that had taken place at the event.

 What Exactly Happened?

What was supposed to be a harmless and lively concert became a hectic disaster as crowds of people rushed into the venue, and many individuals were caught in a vortex of bustling bodies. Several concertgoers recounted the horror of seeing bodies faint all around them and being trampled by rampant crowds, being separated from their friends and loved ones, and seeing horror unfold before their very eyes. 

What did the security and organizers at the venue do during the turmoil? According to concert footage circulating social media feeds, security guards and other professionals did not seem to respond to the chants from many to stop the show and allow paramedics to navigate the crowd. In fact, one instance occurred where a young woman tried to get help from a cameraman filming the concert but was ultimately ignored. 

In general, concert organizers ignored those pleading for help and refused to stop the concert altogether. The organizers were also at fault for not properly calculating the size of the crowd attending the venue and not handling the large mass of people and the individuals attending the event illegally. Overcrowding was the result of this carelessness which led to people being crushed against one another and dying from asphyxia.  

 Paramedics at the scene were also unable to drive through the swarms of people and tend to unconscious individuals. Witnesses stated that people were going so far as to climb on top of the emergency vehicles which further prevented paramedics from assisting. 

Travis Scott himself also ignored the pleas of fans and continued performing, despite the chaos all around him. Some fans claim that Travis Scott could not have known the full extent of what was happening and probably wasn’t aware that people were dying.

However, from his position on stage and people by the stage screaming for him to stop performing, he could have stopped to check what was happening especially with security vehicles and flashing ambulance lights in the crowd.

 Additionally, a video clip surfaced showing Travis Scott calling security to aid an unconscious person out of the venue, but as the person’s body was being carelessly crowd surfed out of the venue, he continued performing without further investigating what was going on. 37 minutes after the event was deemed as hazardous, he was still performing and ignoring the obvious warning signs.

The aftermath was catastrophic and nothing short of tragic: more than 300 people were injured and ten people were confirmed dead, with causes of death ranging from cardiac arrest to suffocation due to “crowd crush.”

Travis Scott faced heaps of criticism across the internet from news outlets to popular YouTubers, such as commentator  Penguinz0, who is known for coverage of entertainment and internet news. He voiced strong disdain towards Travis Scott and claimed, “He is not an idiot, he could see all the chaos out there.” Along with Live Nation, Travis Scott is currently facing hundreds of lawsuits and attempting to repair his currently tarnished image.

What Could Have Been Done

Negligence and carelessness seem to be the main elements in this tragedy, and that falls directly on Travis Scott, the organizers at Live Nation, and the event staff. Clearly, they had some recognition of what was happening, due to the endless cries for help and shouting from the crowd to stop the event, but did not care enough to observe what was truly happening. 

From the very beginning, the concert organizers should have been cautious of the number of people attending the event and taken more cautionary measures by doubling down on security. When it came to security, they could have listened to distressed individuals and notified Travis Scott of the chaos and confusion. Additionally, precautions should have been made to ensure that there weren’t massive hordes of people and enough room to breathe.

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If Travis Scott had taken a few moments to finally stop performing and ask his crowd to let paramedics get through, perhaps many injuries could have been prevented and some lives saved. Similar instances of crowd rowdiness have occurred at his past shows and here, he had the power to prevent that from occurring again.

Artists have stopped concerts for a fan who fainted or for someone in distress, so there is no reason why Travis Scott, who saw a body being transported out of the venue and heard the crowd urging him to bring the show to a halt, could not stop performing entirely.  

In the wake of pending lawsuits and negative media coverage, he took to Instagram live to express his devastation regarding everything that had happened and offer some semblance of an apology to concertgoers and the families of the victims who lost their lives. This response was not received well by the masses, with many noting the melodramatic black and white filter and the disingenuous tone of the apology. 

Some of the youngest victims at the concert were between the ages of 10 and 14, mere pre-teens and teenagers wanting to have an enjoyable concert experience and not expecting to lose their lives on that fatal night. In general, high school and college students are the most popular demographic at concerts. No doubt that here at Moravian, many students have had unique concert experiences. 

Dominic Trabosci, ‘22 English major, noted his personal experience and stated, “I’ve been lucky enough to attend concerts with really caring fans and artists that are pretty observant about what goes on in their crowds, like Twenty One Pilots and AWOLNATION. So for me, I haven’t been in a really scary situation.

However, the Astroworld tragedy has changed the way I’ll attend concerts going forward. For one, I was never really planning on going to a music festival in the future, but I’ve now made the conscious decision to never go to large ones. The extremely large crowds and the general festival atmosphere is way too overwhelming to me. I’m also gonna be sure to bring a bunch of friends with me when I attend concerts where I’m in the pit so that I have more of a safety net.”

Perhaps this fatal tragedy will serve as a cautionary tale for concert and venue organizers and will push musical artists to be more aware of their surroundings. After all, concerts are designed to be lively and invigorating opportunities and should not be potentially harmful to individuals who just wish to have a good time.