In November 2021, 50,000 fans packed into NRG Park for Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival. The festival was initially intended to be broken up into two crowds. However, all of the fans came together for the main act. Earlier in the days, the likes of Don Toliver and SZA performed. Fans enjoyed the day, and things moved with ease. However, things took a turn during Travis Scott's set.
It's been nearly a year and a half since Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival tragedy. Eight people died during the night of the concert. In addition, two more passed away in the hospital over the following days, and hundreds more sustained injuries. With Scott being a Houston native, his hometown concert would always be a hectic affair. The cause of the tragic deaths was related to a mass rush toward the front of the stage, resulting in hostile and claustrophobic conditions.
Astroworld: A Deadly Scene
While watching multiple videos online, droves of audience members can be seen making desperate attempts to stop the show. Groups of screaming fans vaulted onto the stage to plead with workers to speak to Travis Scott. There were clear and repeated attempts to prevent the tragedies which took place. Amid multiple 911 dials, ambulances began to make their way into the crowd. However, the show largely continued during these occurrences.
There's been a constant debate about the level of responsibility that should be levied on Scott. After Astroworld, he indicated that he wasn't at fault for the tragedy. He stated, "Any time I could make out, you know, anything that's going on, I just stopped my show and, you know, helped them get the help they need." In fact, it's not the first time Scott has been accused of doing a poor job of controlling his crowd. Stemming from an incident at Lollapalooza 2015, he was sentenced to a year of court supervision after pleading guilty to reckless conduct charges. Chicago officials stated that he had encouraged fans to vault security barricades.
This isn't to say that Scott made no attempts to calm the crowd. Between 9:20 pm and 9:45 pm, he stopped the show three times to check in with the audience. Each of these times, he made brief statements such as, "Let's stick together to make sure we're all okay." Scott's lawyer has argued that his client had no idea about the extent of what was going on in the crowd. By 10:15 pm, Scott had abruptly ended the show. However, the Houston Chronicle reported that he continued to perform for 37 minutes after the festival had already been declared a mass casualty event.
Scott has also been heavily criticized for how he's responded to the event. Whether it be deflecting blame or not directly addressing the situation, he's kept his responses brief and hazy. With over 40 civil lawsuits being aimed at Scott, there's no doubt that his lawyers have advised him not to speak too much. Mostly, he's seemingly left the situation to his representatives. In his first interview since the tragedy with Charlamagne the God, the two spoke for an hour. Scott repeatedly stated, "We need to figure this out" or "Gather all of the details." Fans responded to this interview with the understandable sentiment that these comments were coming far too late.
The Shift In Festival Culture
Labeled a mass casualty event, the Astroworld Festival has changed the landscape of concerts forever. Artists now worry about checking in on their audiences throughout large-scale shows. In retrospect, it feels as if the terrible occurrences at the Astroworld Festival were something that had been brewing in the trap scene. Mosh-pits had taken over concerts, with artists often doing little to address news of people passing out in the crowd. There was an existing culture of ignorance regarding artists maturely controlling crowds.
In addition, crowd members have become more conscious of the people around them since the incident. Undoubtedly, the hoards of lawsuits levied against Scott have delayed his highly anticipated album, Utopia. Only a few of these lawsuits have been settled, with Scott reaching an agreement with the families. However, there remains a cloud of doubt surrounding his future. While he's undeniably shied away from the spotlight since the incident, he's begun to return to performing. That said, it's questionable if Scott can ever host his own festival again.