Festivals are a joyful celebration of music. With different artists putting on exclusive performances to a live audience, it is a fun experience. Astroworld is by no means a small festival. It is an annual festival run by musician Travis Scott from 2018 onwards. It is so popular that all 100,000 tickets were sold out within 30 minutes. Astroworld 2021 should have been a fun 2-day event beginning on the 5th of November. However, the first night ended in a crowd surge, which resulted in the death of 10 people.
Several articles and videos from the event taken by eyewitnesses and emergency services have emerged all over social media and give some detail about what happened. One account, given by Eric and Ethan Daniels to the Houston Chronicle, reported the lack of water as bottles were not allowed in the facility. There were no fountains either. Instead, to get a bottle of water, people had to buy a bottle for $5. The crowd was getting restless.
By the time Travis Scott himself took center stage, both men found themselves being pushed up against the railing by force. As the frenzy continued, people were beginning to pass out from lack of air. As an Instagram user named seannafaith writes, “It was like watching a Jenga tower topple. Person after person was sucked down.”
Sources indicate that bodies of people who had passed out were being flung over the fences to get them help. The medical staff was struggling to get people away from the crowd. In some cases, unconscious people were being trampled on as the public was pushed further forward. Another account described how people screamed at the top of their lungs for help but could not get help. On Twitter, a thread posted by @WulfMunkey gives many accounts and shows many pieces of footage from that night. Some video even shows paramedics desperately trying to do CPR on someone who had collapsed. There are many more accounts, but this should paint some picture of this tragedy.
As more videos have come to light about this event, more information about problems with security has been made public. Few videos that have gone viral are of a stampede earlier in the day, which resulted in hundreds of people entering the concert illegally and without security checks. A leaked firefighter report detailed the volatile environment beginning to emerge as early as 9:15 AM.
According to the logs provided by the Houston Chronicle, mere minutes after the gates were opened at 9 AM, “Participants breached secondary checkpoint.”
The report went into detail about several other volatile instances throughout the day. One such example came at 1:30 PM when people were using bolt cutters to get through the barriers. Footage shown on Twitter by @MycahABC13 (ABC 13 Houston reporter Mycah Hatfield) shows a stampede of people rushing past security checkpoints. Houston fire chief Samuel Pena, however, suggested Travis Scott could have stopped the concert sooner. In an interview, as reported by The Independent, fire chief Pena states that “The artist has command of that crowd.”
Scott did stop his show to get an ambulance to someone who had lost unconsciousness. It has been reported he had stopped the show several times to help fans but would then resume. Several videos of people climbing the podiums to get people to shut down the concert, such as this one provided by @Ashmelym, demonstrate that this might not have been enough.
Public outcry was fierce. Huston City mayor Sylvester Turner has opened an official investigation into what has happened. He vowed to “leave no stone unturned.”
As of writing this article, Texas-based lawyer Thomas J Henry has filed a lawsuit for 280 victims for $2 billion. It is against Scott, Drake, Apple Music, Live Entertainment, and more. Dozens of more cases are being filed against the various parties from loved ones of those who lost their lives.
Astroworld 2021 was a tragedy that should never have happened. We would like to ask that you research this story yourself as it deserves to be known. Do not send hate to any of the parties involved in this story. There are still ongoing investigations into this incident.