Travis Scott’s Astroworld ends in tragedy

Travis+Scotts+third+annual+Astroworld+Festival+resulted+in+a+mass+causality+event+after+hundreds+were+injured+and+ten+died+in+the+crowd.+

Raiyan Hassan '23

Travis Scott’s third annual “Astroworld Festival’ resulted in a mass causality event after hundreds were injured and ten died in the crowd.

By Grayson Salomon '22, ARCHBISHOP RIORDAN HIGH SCHOOL

“Eight dead, 300 injured in mass casualty event in Houston,” read several headlines all over media outlets after Travis Scott’s Third Annual “Astroworld Festival” that took place on Nov. 6, 2021. What was meant to be the two day epic closer to Travis Scott’s fundraising “Astro Week” in Houston ended in mayhem as many people were left with injuries and some were horrifically crushed and suffered cardiac arrest in the crowd.

“This is such a terrible thing to happen at a concert, and crowd safety should be the #1 priority. Sometimes I think the artists and promoters have their eyes on the dollars and overlook safety,” shared English teacher and concert enthusiast Micheal Vezzali-Pascual ’88.

The festival featured a star studded lineup, featuring several different artists of all genres. From similar rappers like Roddy Ricch and Baby Keem to artists you wouldn’t expect like Bad Bunny, Tame Impala and even Earth Wind & Fire. 

Raiyan Hassan ’23

Unfortunately, fans didn’t get to see any of these artists perform after the extreme tragedy and mass chaos that broke out during Travis’s headliner performance on day one. At around 8:45 pm, when Travis was slated to perform, a mass surge of about 40-50 thousand people rushed the main stage to get close to the rail for an up close view of the Houston native. The surge in the crowd caused thousands of people to get quite literally squished and left immobile the crowd. 

Raiyan Hassan ’23, a survivor from the show from Bellflower, CA, described what he saw in the crowd. 

“At 8:30 PM, the stage took a countdown of 30 minutes for the show to begin. In my opinion, this was the last straw before things got serious. At this moment you can feel your body just getting passed around uncontrollably, with barely enough space to breathe. I realized people started pushing us at the front from the back as people were coming in from the last couple performances. It really got hectic at that time, I didn’t know whether I should be excited or scared. I was seeing extremely happy faces with a mix of scared/nervous ones. When there was 10 minutes left, I remember a person around my age yelling out “Let me out I can’t breathe! I can’t move please!”. I pushed over to him and tried our best for the remainder of the time to escape with no avail. I swear to god, when the timer hit 5 minutes, that was when I genuinely noticed this is NOT a normal concert. I was getting pushed around, literally jumping up frequently to get fresh air, and couldn’t stand on my balance. You could hear the crowd get louder and hear people cry out for help. This was probably the most suspenseful before things got really bad,” recalled Hassan. 

The “Utopia Mountain” stage, prior from Travis Scott’s performance at 8:45. (Raiyan Hassan ’23)

He continued, “After only 50 seconds of trying to stand and stay still, I ended up falling like dominos on top of others, eventually getting piled under. My first instinct like any other person would be to get out, so I tried kicking the person off on top of me. The individual on top of me was pretty big, but from the pressure I felt another person on top of him falling. This is when I convinced myself that if I do not move and stay still, everything will be okay as long as I consume my energy. From my memory, I remember the whole ground shaking, red lights from the tiny air gaps I was able to breathe through, Travis performing like crazy, and loud cries of help. I believe I was stuck under the pile of bodies for 8 minutes, before I felt even more pressure and all the air gaps for me were gone. I was literally half braindead/passed out with nothing to do but pray to God. I’m a muslim, so I started thinking of everything I had learned to what I can pray for.”

After 10 minutes of being quite literally dog piled in the crowd, Hassan described being picked up by another attendee in the festival and being crowd surfed all the way to the barricade in the back. 

“I was finally able to breath with suffocation whatsoever. After I got a clear point of view of what was going on, I saw people still trying to escape and bodies being picked up. My whole body was sort of numb. I couldn’t move, so I was just laying on the floor screaming for someone to pick me up and carry me away.He carried me all the way out to the back of the barricades, eventually to a crowd surfing me out. Someone offered me water, which I drank from being immensely dehydrated. I was later laid behind the barricades to rest. The things I saw was really traumatizing. I saw so many people just screaming, passed out and dead bodies on the ground getting stomped on,” Hassan remembered.

Travis Scott is known for his high energy, “rage-fueled” shows and encourages his fans, “ragers,” to get wild when in the crowd. He has a history of this, as he was arrested back in 2015 at Lollapalooza for “inciting a riot” when encouraging fans to hop the fence of the General Admission section. He was also arrested in 2017 during his “Bird’s Eye View Tour” stop in Arkansas, for the same reason. Also worth noting is the fact that every year, fans storm and tear down the fence outside of the festival, hours prior to the festival gates opening, bypassing the security. 

Scott usually takes care of his fans however, and will stop the show if he sees anyone in need of aid. He did stop the show multiple times to aid fans, however he claims he was “unaware” of the tragedy that was unfolding as he continued his hour and forty five minute performance. There is a video circulating where Travis sees an EMT cart in the crowd, acknowledges it, and continues his performance even bringing out superstar artist Drake towards the end of the show.

Although it might look like Travis holds most of the blame,  people are also shifting the blame towards the crowd. In another video, we are shown that fans hopped on top of the same EMT cart,  dancing as Scott performed. Travis Scott fan Aaron Dela Cruz ’24 shared his thoughts on this.

“I think the crowd is most to blame for this. Now I’m not saying the event planners or Travis are not to blame for this but, this whole concert and the events that took place is a prime example of ‘celebrity worship’. If people never broke into the concert and the crowd paid more attention to helping other people that were getting suffocated, instead of raging to SICKO MODE, all of this would have never happened.”

Long-time Travis Scott fan Gio Ferrari ’22 was disappointed in his favorite artist after what had happened after in Houston, yet it’s not stopping his love for the rapper and his choice to attend concerts. 

 “Travis should take away to not promote riots and not promote people to break into your concert on Twitter. He should also have had a better apology because it came off as a joke as it is now a pretty funny meme now. I am still going to go to concerts and you best believe I am still listening to Travis Scott,” stated Ferrari.

As this event took place about a month ago, the death toll has now increased to 10, with the youngest person being only 9 years old. Travis Scott has since come out and agreed to paying all the funeral costs for the victims families and is offering free mental therapy and aid to survivors suffering with any forms of PTSD they had from the event. He was also slammed with dozens and dozens of lawsuits that have stacked up to cost around $10 Billion dollars along with Live Nation Entertainment and Drake.

Astroworld served as a lesson for all artists and live entertainment companies on safety and being aware of what goes on in the crowd during the performances. Vezzali-Pascual shared his final thoughts on the event and what the future holds for live entertainment.

He said, “ I think artists need to take the lead with their fans and encourage them to be safe and not mosh either. Every single time I have seen Pearl Jam (5 times), Eddie Vedder always says something to the crowd during the show and checks in to make sure people are safe. I hate to think it, but if things don’t change, to quote Ice Cube: ‘Pretty soon hip-hop won’t be so nice/No Ice Cube, just Vanilla Ice/And we’ll sit and scream and cuss/But there’s no one to blame, but US.” 

This story was originally published on The Crusader on December 12, 2021.