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Eight dead at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival

Eight people died and hundreds were injured at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston due to a mixture of mismanagement, negligence, and an unwavering focus on profitability over human life.

Eight people and hundreds more were injured in a crowd crush at Astroworld Festival over the weekend.

Launched in 2018 by producer and rapper Travis Scott, the annual event is intended to be a large-scale, psychedelic experience that takes place on the former site of a now-closed theme park of the same name.

While it had historically been a popular festival with Houston’s citizens and hip-hop goers alike, the news of eight deaths – all under the age of 30 and one as young as 14 – has sent shock waves across the music industry, and it is currently unclear what will happen next.

In an Instagram video response, Travis said he was ‘working with local authorities’ and was ‘devastated’. An investigation has been launched and one of likely many lawsuits has now begun. The following day of Astroworld Festival was cancelled and GoFundMe pages have been setup for the families of victims. A subreddit also appeared on Saturday titled r/fucktravisscott.

Various accounts from witnesses and victims indicate that fans attempted to alert security and organisers of overcrowding from the moment Travis appeared on stage. Earlier in the day, gate rushers were filmed flooding into the venue without tickets and TikToks from the night show an absurdly packed standing area.

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According to reports, a surge in pushing and crowd movement began once the music started and did not let up for the entirety of the show. This became more intense when Drake made a surprise appearance and fans attempted to scream for help.

Travis appears to disregard some of these pleas and continues the show regardless, only stopping occasionally for fans he believes to be passed out in the crowd. One girl’s lengthy Instagram post details how she attempted to tell a cameraman providing a feed for an Apple Music stream that ‘there is someone dead’ – but she was ultimately ignored.

 

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Ambulances also tried to get to those who needed help, but both security and medical staff were underfunded and overwhelmed. Clips were shared over the weekend of fans jumping on top of an ambulance that was near the scene, while Travis himself says ‘what the fuck is that?’ as he looks on from the stage.


What caused this tragedy?

It is not yet clear what caused these deaths – at least not legally – but there are a variety of factors at play that likely had a major role.

For one, Travis himself is known to be an excessively reckless performer. He encourages fans to break rules, disregard security, and welcomes unhinged and violent behaviour. In 2017 he was arrested while performing in Arkansas for ‘inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, and endangering a minor’. He pushed for fans to rush the stage and bypass security.

In another incident, one fan sued Travis in 2017 after he fell from a balcony at one of his shows and became permanently paralysed. 23-year-old Kyle Green said he was encouraged to fall from a severe height and was not cared for properly by Travis’ team.

There are more clips that demonstrate an overall lack of empathy from Travis as a performer. Take this 2015 incident when a fan allegedly attempts to ‘steal his shoe’ and he proceeds to encourage fans to ‘fuck him up’. He is eventually removed from the show and Travis even spits on him on the way out.

The 2019 Netflix documentary ‘Look Mom I Can Fly’ details much of the ‘rage’ culture that Scott embraces. You can view the trailer below to get a sense of the typical vibe of his concerts, which are largely aggressive, over-the-top, and frequently dangerous.

With that being said, Travis is not entirely at fault. Astroworld Festival was poorly constructed considering its massive capacity and measures were not put in place to deal with overcrowding.

There appeared to be no immediate line of communication from security to the stage, nor was there enough water stations, food vendors, or medics. People were collapsing and receiving CPR yet there was no way to relay information from the audience to Travis.

Fans themselves were also worsening the situation, clambering on top of emergency vehicles and yelling at those trying to get help. Clips on YouTube show a male trying to grab the attention of the security team but he is met with boos and chants of being a ‘bitch’. It was largely a scene of confusing chaos – with no instructive guidance on how to deal with too many people.


How will this impact the industry and what happens next?

Trying to determine how this incident will affect the music industry and live concerts as a whole is largely conjecture at this stage.

It’s hugely important how Travis bounces back and whether or not he acknowledges the severity of this situation. The future of Astroworld Festival hangs in the balance and it’s safe to assume that he’ll be dropping the intense ‘rage’ gimmick if he performs again at all.

There are lots of questions that are yet to be answered and we could be seeing anything from manslaughter arrests to formal legal proceedings via affected companies and victims. Apple Music’s involvement will no doubt garner some unwanted attention and scrutiny too, particularly the camera operators who refused to listen to audience members pleading for help.

Festivals such as these that aren’t correctly regulated need to be more intensely scrutinised, with clearer instructions and far more resources to help those in imminent danger. It is clear that the organisation of this event was motivated solely by profitability and commercial opportunity, rather than human experience and general safety.

To that end, Scott’s Astroworld concept will now eternally represent something different to its original intention. No longer will it be seen as the trippy, explosive childhood rollercoaster of visual stimulus that Houston prides itself on, instead serving as an example of late-stage capitalism and celebrity worship at its very worst.

Witnessing a multi-millionaire celebrity stand above an endless ocean of fans and perform the robot dance while paramedics attempt to resuscitate unconscious people below is absurdly eerie, regardless of context.

Some TikTok users and YouTube conspiracists have described this event as a ‘satanic ritual’ which is offensive and inappropriate, but it demonstrates how devoid of humanity and empathy this festival was.

The show was not stopped. People continued to drown in one another as Travis and Drake crooned in autotune and hyped-up adlibs.

Astroworld Festival spiralled out of control, ballooning into a twisted nightmare of death, injury, and fear, but it was not enough to justify compromising the show and the millions of dollars that had been poured into it by brands and artists. That in itself is terrifying.

Regardless of where you stand, one thing is clear as this weekend draws to a close. Eight young people died going to see their favourite artist, wanting a moment of joy after years of lockdowns and pandemic woes. They deserve to be remembered. Everything else is just noise.

 

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