Concertgoers who attended Houston’s Astroworld Festival and are safe, consider yourself blessed. The festival is now considered one of the deadliest concerts in U.S. history. Eight people are dead and many more injured after attending the Travis Scott performance on November 5, 2021. The music event is now under investigation by police and several concertgoers are suing Scott and the promoters for damages. Usually some lawsuits are frivolous, you know the ones. These lawsuits I’m sure have merit, considering people died, due to gross negligence. The rapper is facing multiple lawsuits. One of the injured concertgoer has accused Scott and surprise performer Drake of inciting the crowd, and is seeking $1 million in damages. Neither parties have commented on the lawsuit, according to published reports.
The star, who set up the annual festival in Houston, Texas, his hometown, has said he is working to help victims’ families. The youngest of whom was just 14. Meanwhile, tributes have been pouring in on social media for those killed. The surge began at about 9:15 pm local time, when panic broke out as the crowd pressed towards the front of the stage during Scott’s headline set. According to eyewitnesses, “you couldn’t move, scratch your own face, that’s how tight it was.” For almost 40 minutes after Houston policeman firefighters responded to a “mass casualty” event at Travis Scott’s parked Astroworld music festival, the superstar continued to perform. By the time he left the stage, it had become one of the deadliest concerts in US history. Fans were filmed chanting “stop the show” and pleading for staff to help. One even climbed onto a camera platform to point out the injured. Scott eventually ended his set about 15 to 20 minutes ahead of the advertised time. However, questions remain about why it didn’t finish sooner. The show ended at 10:10 pm.
Scott, one of the biggest names in rap music, launched the event with concert promoters Live Nation in 2018. He said in an Instagram video that he was not aware how bad things had become during his headline set this year. In footage from the concert, he can be seen interrupting his performance to ask for help for a fan who had passed out. The rapper is known for his wild shows, and has been in trouble for inciting dangerous behavior in the past. In 2015, he was charged with disorderly conduct after encouraging fans in Chicago to ignore security and rush the stage. Two year later, he spotted a fan hanging from a venue’s second -storey balcony and tried to persuade them to jump. At the same concert, a 27-year-old fan was paralyzed after being pushed off a third-floor balcony. In 2019, hundreds of fans rushed the Astroworld barriers, with three people going to the hospital with minor injuries. Police wrote on Twitter that the event was understaffed and that “promoters did not plan sufficiently for the large crowds,” although the tweet was later deleted.
Fears about crowd safety had been raised before this year’s event. A security plan obtained by the New York Times addressed several areas of concern. “Based on the site’s layout and numerous past experiences, the potential for multiple alcohol/drug related incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation are identified as key concerns,” the document read. Before Scott took to the stage, local news teams filmed fans bursting through gates and bypassing security checkpoints. The city’s police chief also visited the star in his dressing room to convey concerns about the energy in the crowd. So how did this tragedy happen? When tragedies happen, its often not about one bad decision but an accumulation of smaller mistakes that ultimately lead to catastrophe. It needs to be addressed that this type of performer in that type of environment will induce this type of behavior in the crowd- so you need to put crowd management and monitoring systems in place to make sure that you have an early warning indicator. Hopefully this will be a lesson learned.