By Teddy McCrann, ’23
At least 10 innocent people dead and hundreds injured: the result of chaos in Houston on Friday, November 5th at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival. The horrific sights and first-hand accounts of what went on that night are unparalleled to anything we have seen in the music industry in years, as the “surge” of the crowd left people suffocating, trampled, and in pure agony. The dead ranged in age from 9 to 27, with the youngest casualty, Ezra Blount, placed in a medically induced coma because of injuries his family believes occurred when he was trampled.
Although Scott and his associates have offered apologies and financial support for what happened at the festival, questions still linger over whether these deaths and substantial injuries could have been prevented.
Since that nightmarish night, the public has struggled with who is truly to blame. Was it Travis Scott’s fault for failing to see his fans scream for help and continuing to perform and induce further surges? Was it the security’s fault for failing to realize what was going on just feet away from them in the crowd? Or was it the spectators’ fault for succumbing to the grasps of Scott’s “rager” influence and injuring their fellow concertgoers? I believe the blame should be attributed to Scott and the fact that he was oblivious to what was happening at his own concert. Even though at some points Scott had stopped the show due to ambulance lights and people being carried off on stretchers, he still continued to perform and wanted the crowd to make the “ground shake.” This behavior is unacceptable. Scott should have completely stopped his show in order to address the crowd, allow the injured to recieve help as quickly as possible, and prevent any casualties.
What happened at Astroworld has some precedence. In 1979, 11 people were trampled to death at a Cincinnati concert by the Who. In 2000, nine people died at a Pearl Jam concert in Denmark. These concerts all offered “festival seating,” a practice where seats are either not reserved or are removed entirely so the crowd ends up standing shoulder-to-shoulder. To address the chaos and casualties that can occur with such seating, concert venues since then have often divided the main floor into grids; crowd size is limited in each section and security has better access when there are issues. The number of security personnel has also been increased at many shows. These measures were either not in place or not adequately enforced for Travis Scott, whose shows are known for being so high-energy they border on chaotic.
Since the tragedy of November 5th, many performers and artists have come out before their concerts to reassure the crowd that nothing close to what happened that night will be repeated. These artists care about their fans and want to prevent deaths or injuries at their shows, which indicates a promising future in concert safety.
The calamity at Astroworld will never be forgotten. While the debate over who truly is to blame may rage on, Travis Scott has felt repercussions including being removed from this year’s Coachella music festival lineup. This is a step forward in responding to his inhumane and negligent actions, and may help ensure other artists work to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Featured image: https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Travis-Scott-Astroworld-victim-Danish-Baig-fiancee-16636224.php