Headlines such as “Astroworld Festival tragedy death toll rises to 10: ‘This was a bloodbath’” caused confusion and curiosity. People are not supposed to die at a concert. That’s not normal. Or is it--for certain performers at least?
The fateful day was November 5, 2021. The performer? Travis Scott. The festival? Named after Scott’s 2018 album: “Astroworld”.
There were 50,000 fans in attendance. Since there was no one performing on the second stage, everyone was gathered towards the main stage. Even before Scott started performing, the crowd "began to compress toward the front of the stage," according to Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña. Looking at video footage, less than ten minutes into the performance, the crowd was already looking distressed and squished together. Scott stopped the show three times around 9:25PM, to draw attention to someone in the crowd who needed help, saying, "Somebody passed out right here.” The performance then continued.
Around 9:30PM, medical staff aided someone who was lying unresponsive, while Seanna McCarty, an attendee of the festival concert, climbed onto a camera platform to call for help. According to those at the concert, a domino effect took place where when one fell, others fell around them but it was impossible to get up. Throughout the entire concert, people were shouting and even chanting for Scott to stop the show entirely.
At 9:38PM, Houston Police and firefighters declared Astroworld as a mass casualty event and responded accordingly. One would think that the concert would have stopped at this point.
Only at 10:12PM, 33 minutes after being declared a mass casualty event, would Scott finish the show and leave the stage. It was later reported by the Houston Chronicle that the promoter of the event, Live Nation, agreed to cut the show short in agreement with the police, but Scott continued the set anyways. 300 people were treated by medical personnel on site, authorities said. Another 25 were transported to the hospital.
Scott’s following apology on Instagram was seen as scripted and fake. It has become a joke to use that footage for when people are insincere about their personal apologies.
However, this was not the first time that Scott’s crowd has gotten rowdy. In fact, Scott has a reputation for encouraging this kind of behavior from fans.
In August of 2015, Scott was arrested for inciting a crowd to jump barriers at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago. In May of 2017, Scott was arrested for inciting fans to breach barricades and overrun security at the Walmart Music Pavilion in Rogers, Arkansas. For both, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and paid a fine.
“I see you, but are you gonna do it? They gonna catch you. Don’t be scared. Don’t be scared!”
In April of 2017, at a concert at Terminal 5, a fan had climbed over the second-floor railing. Scott asks for lights to be turned on and said, “I see you, but are you gonna do it? They gonna catch you. Don’t be scared. Don’t be scared!” These words led to others also peer pressuring the fan to jump off of a balcony. At the same concert, Kyle Green, 27, was pushed from a third-floor balcony. Green broke several bones, including the vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed. In November of 2019, only two years prior, at the same Astroworld festival, fans breached barricades which resulted in three people injured and being taken to the hospital.
The aftermath of the 2021 Astroworld disaster looks pretty dark for Travis Scott. There are two main lawsuits: one of $750 million and one of $2 billion. The $750 million lawsuit is brought by 125 plaintiffs, including the family of Axel Acosta, who unfortunately died during the concert at the age of 21. They claim that Scott and Drake, the guest star of the concert, kept performing even though there are multiple accounts of “lifeless bodies being passed through the crowd in full view of the stage.” It also claims that Acosta was “crushed by the incited, unruly and out-of-control crowd” and was dying while the music kept playing for 40 minutes.
282 plaintiffs have signed on to a massive $2 billion lawsuit since November 8, when Kristian Paredes first filed it. The lawsuit claims that Apple’s multimillion dollar purchase, promotion, and implementation of its exclusive online streaming rights played a critical role in the crowd-control disaster. Because of Apple’s filming, the event’s barriers were not arranged in a way that was safest for concert goers, but, rather, optimal for footage. Apparently, the placement of cameras for Apple Music’s filming limited the numbers of exits, which is dangerous in any case.
All in all, lawyers for these lawsuits and attendees of the concert claim that there was no incentive for any management or Scott to stop the show since a tremendous amount of money was on the line. Therefore, 10 people died. Will Travis Scott, Drake, and Apple be held accountable for Astroworld? The courts will decide.