At least eight people are reported dead after a crowd crush at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival on Friday night (November 5).
Around 50,000 people were in the audience. Trouble started earlier in the day when mobs of people overwhelmed the entrance gates. There were also problems at the merch tables.
There were also disturbances around the side stages with people throwing water bottles. Reports say the crowds kept getting more and more unruly.
Sometime around 9:15, the crowd “began to compress” at the front of the stage, injuring a number of people. The pressure got worse and worse. People began to pass out. Panic set in.
By 9:38, police had declared a “mass casualty incident.” The number of victims kept rising and EMS personnel couldn’t keep up. (There were 367 cops assigned to the site as well as 241 private security personnel.)
Travis Scott, who was onstage at the time of the tragedy (and who had just welcomed Drake as a special guest) says he had no idea what was going on. That;s why the show continued until about 10:15 am. The music continued as people in cardiac arrest were hauled out of the GA area. He stopped twice to address the situation, but otherwise the performance continued.
The latest reports have 300 people treated at the festival’s field hospital, 23 people transported to hospital. That included a 10-year-old. Eleven people were hospitalized in cardiac arrest. It was incredibly chaotic. And there’s the weird story about some guy running around injecting random people with opioids.
The dead include teens and college students. The youngest was 14 and the oldest was 27.
Here’s a good eyewitness account of what happened.
Houston police apparently warned Scott before the show about whipping up the crowd too much. Remember that he’s been arrested several times for urging fans to rush through security gates. He was also sued in 2017 by a member of the audience who says he was knocked out of a balcony at a Scott show in New York after he encouraged people to jump into the pit.
As things unfolded on Friday, Scott noted to the audience that an ambulance was making its way into the crowd and then told everyone to “make the ground shake” as he rolled into his next song.
Why didn’t he stop the show when it was obvious that people were trouble? If there’s an ambulance moving into the crowd, isn’t that some kind of sign that something is terribly wrong? What about the chain of command and communication when it came to stage management? Wasn’t there someone who could make the call and stop the show? Extra security had been brought in but it obviously didn’t help.
Criminal investigations have already begun. Apple was livestreaming the show, so you can bet that video will be scrutinized.
The festival was promoted by ScoreMoreShows, which was purchased by Live Nation in 2018. The lawsuits have already begun, too, the first being at USD$1 million suit brought forth by one of the injured. Live Nation, ScoreMoreShows, Scott, and Drake are all named in the suit.
This tragedy will inevitably mean more rules when it comes to crowd control at festivals. More security. Better stage barriers. Fewer people allowed into GA areas. And insurance rates for both artists and promoters will go up. Those costs will be passed along to fans in the form of higher ticket prices.