Fatal Festival

Astroworld tragedy could have been avoided


Frank Schwichtenberg/Creative Commons

Rapper Travis Scott performs in a 2019 concert.

On Nov. 5, fans of the rapper Travis Scott gathered in Houston, Texas for Astrofest. After the first day of the music festival, 8 people died and several more sustained injuries due to the crazed out crowd. 

Astroworld Festival or Astrofest is a music festival created by rapper Travis Scott, in his hometown of Houston, Texas. The festival first began in 2018 and ran again in 2019. The gathering was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, but was brought back in 2021. Astrofest had a lineup of many popular artists including Drake, Lil Baby, SZA, Young Thug, and Travis Scott. 

According to witnesses, before the festival opened its doors, fans already began to rush one of the entrances.They quickly overthrew security and knocked down the entrance and the security equipment. 

Later into the night, 8 people were reported to have died and 11 went into cardiac arrest with many more sustaining injuries that night. Over 300 people needed medical treatment from the event. 

Weeks later, 9 year old, Ezra Blount, passed away from his injuries. Blount had trauma on his heart, lungs, and brain. He was placed in a medically induced coma before dying 9 days later.

Many people in attendance claimed that Scott didn’t stop the show, even with the crowd chanting for him to stop. Some fans decided to climb on top of  and around emergency vehicles, making them unable to tend to the injured or take them to hospitals.

This is not the first time that Scott has been accused of causing an unstable concert environment. In 2017, Travis encouraged a fan–Kyle Green–to jump from the 2nd story of a venue. The jump left Green paralyzed. In 2015, Scott pleaded guilty to convincing fans to climb over security barricades at the Jameer Pond Summer Jam in 2015.

Scott is known for having over-the-top and “raging” shows, it has become a part of him and his brand. 

At least 18 lawsuits have been filed against Scott, Drake, and other festival coordinators. Scott has promised to pay for the funerals of the deceased, but some people think he’s doing the bare minimum.

Could the deaths and injuries at Astrofest 2021 be avoided? The short answer is yes. The long answer is a little more complicated. There wasn’t just one factor that led to the tragic incident. 

Security at the festival needed to be beefed up. Testimonies from fans and videos from the night show security struggling against the unhinged audience. Large events like this need large security measures. The people working security at the festival were capable of doing their job, they were just vastly outnumbered by the amount of fans in attendance.

Emergency personnel were additionally given the short stick. Just like security, they were clearly understaffed for all the festival go-ers. The emergency crews that did manage to tend to the people in the crowds, were soon trapped in by the crowds, meaning they couldn’t take certain people to hospitals for treatment. 

A majority of music festivals are restricted to people under the age of 18. Astrofest said it was restricted to those under 18, unless given permission from parents. This made it easier for minors to enter the festival. One of the concert go-ers that was killed was a 14 years old, a 10 year old was hospitalized, and a 9 year old was placed into a medically induced coma before passing away from his injuries. Allowing people under the age of 18 to enter, even with parental approval, was a terrible idea. A 10 or 14 year old is much smaller compared to the 20 to 30 year olds in attendance. Someone that much younger will get pushed around and injured.

The biggest factor in the events that transcribed that night was how Scott acted during the event. The crowd was chanting to stop and he continued on performing. He most likely couldn’t see what was happening to people, but he could clearly hear the audience yelling at him to stop.

Scott has made dangerous shows a part of his personality as an artist. He encourages his fans to wild out and act irresponsibly. References to this can be found in his lyrics, his tweets, and even the way he acts at shows. He has a history of creating unstable concert environments and this wasn’t even the first time that he has been threatened with prison time for his actions, this is just the first time that human lives have been lost. While backlash has been given before, many more people are up in arms about what happened, especially younger people.

The deaths at the concert could have been easily avoided with a larger amount of security and emergency personnel, a strict enforced age requirement, and most importantly Scott and other artists to not encourage fans to act unstable. Concerts need to be something that everyone should be able to enjoy. When artists like Scott rally their fans to act out, then we get incidents like at Astrofest 2021.

Many of the people that suffered serious injuries were teenagers around the ages of 14 through 17, the ages of students at South. Younger people should not have to worry about dying or sustaining terrible injuries when they attend a concert or large-scale event. 

Steps can be taken to prevent accidents like this from happening in the future. Stronger security measures, availability to access emergency services and personnel, only allow people over the age of 18, and most importantly, fans that can be respectful to those who are injured at these events.

Scott is facing $2 billion in lawsuits. Scott has not been charged with any crimes, but he’ll most likely go bankrupt if the lawsuits follow-through, as his net worth is only $60 million.

I believe that Scott should be charged for endangerment of lives. This isn’t the first time that he’s been in trouble for causing hectic concert scenes. I’m all for second chances, but this is the 3rd time, I don’t think he’s realized the effects of his actions. Scott released an apology video after the event. Many people have called this out as being only for publicity purposes, as he doesn’t seem genuinely upset in the video.

I don’t think that he should be allowed to perform, unless the top measures are taken for safety. Fans should boycott his shows until precautions are taken.

I want every artist to have safe events. Younger people shouldn’t be afraid of being seriously injured or killed at events that are meant to be fun. If proper safety is taken and is the most important priority, then I believe events like Astrofest 2021 can be avoided in the future.