Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival tragedy serves as a caution to all artists to protect their fans

What began as a celebratory music festival as about 50,000 people showed up to enjoy hip-hop artist Travis Scott and other musicians during his third annual Astroworld concert at NRG Park in Houston, Texas turned into a tragedy. What’s even more sad — this horrific event could have and should have been prevented — Scott has a responsibility to protect his fans when capable, and on this night, the matter was in his hands. 

What’s being described as an “audience surge” has left eight people dead, including a 14- and 16-year old, several hospitalized, and many traumatized. Recent reports confirmed that concertgoers gathered to see his highly-anticipated performance and as the countdown for his emergence on stage began, unprecedented chaos ensued as a slew of fans began surging the stage wreaking havoc as people began to be trampled, unable to breathe, and some losing consciousness.

It’s hard to reckon with numerous videos and images captured during the event showing Scott turn his cheek as unconscious fans are lifted across the crowd for medical treatment, and conscious fans gasp for air and scream for help. It’s even more difficult to ignore videos showing victims of the mass surge crawling their way onto the stage, barely escaping the pandemonium on the ground, and screeching for cameramen and crew to stop the show and send medical assistance to the crowd.

Despite this, Travis continued to perform as if everything was fine and the show rallied on. 

While Scott has maintained a veil of ignorance of the volatile nature brewing under the stage and his claims of sympathy, footage indicates that the crew should be held accountable, including security guards who were unequipped for safety measurements and lacked the ability to control a stampede of fans, who even breached the concert entrance at the beginning of the event. 

One now viral and chilling footage on social media shows two fans earnestly pleading with a cameraman to stop the show. Panic bubbled in their voices as they screamed, “There is someone dead in there.” Unfortunately, their pleas were met with deaf ears and the show continued drowning their voices as music blared through the speakers. 

Somehow, despite the ambulance being vandalized by ravers in the crowd, Travis Scott and other artists were able to perform throughout the night as if nothing was happening and people weren’t dying right before their eyes. One attendee called the event a “death trap” and others have taken to social media to describe their horrendous experiences. 

“I felt like I was having a panic attack. My heart kept going fast, I couldn’t breathe, “ said Jennifer Hernandez, 24, told Insider.

It’s true that actions speak louder than words, and in this case, Scott’s actions showed the world that his love for his cult following has limitations. Can we assume that if Scott’s team properly ensured the safety of this huge event (including COVID-19 precautions, which weren’t present), could all of this have been prevented? Had Scott listened to the outpouring of cries, would that have stopped the surge?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know and the reality is eight young lives were lost, families struck with tragedy, and futures cut short. Whether or not Scott is one hundred percent accountable is up for question, but the combined efforts of him and the event organizers do not completely absolve them of any responsibility. 

Travis Scott
Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Contemporary Service Corporation (CSC) event security guard Darius Williams confirmed with TMZ that he and other security staff were unprepared for the sheer volume of the crowd. According to his accounts, he and other security officers were provided with minimal and vague training just a few days before the show. 

“We were definitely understaffed in every sense of the word,” he explains.

Considering Scott’s history of arrests and court supervision due to him encouraging his fans’ mosh-pit and riot-like behavior, the world is left questioning not only his poor decision-making and greed, but also the responsibility of artists, event organizers, and promoters to ensure the health and safety of concert attendees. With the concert continuing nearly 40 minutes after people began to drop unconscious into cardiac arrest, it’s impossible to ignore his negligence and ultimately, he and his team should be held accountable.

Following the incident, Scott and his significant other, Kylie Jenner, who also attended the event with their child, Stormi, released apologetic statements noting their sorrow for the tragedies and that Scott is cooperating with city officials pending their investigation. Reports noted that he will refund all attendees their tickets and has canceled his headliner show in Las Vegas later this month. But is that enough? 

As we collectively mourn the lives of the victims of this devastating incident, I hope that it serves as clear evidence that fame comes with responsibility, and the literal power to save lives is in many artists’ hands. Had Scott taken the effort to stop the concert when cries began, perhaps many of his raving fans would listen to him, just as they have at previous concerts where he encouraged the chaos.

Perhaps John Hilgert, a ninth-grade student at Memorial High School, would have returned to school the following Monday morning. Or maybe 27-year-old Danish Baig, who died saving his fiancée, would have lived to say “I do.” The aftermath of this trauma will linger years after this event and serve as a constant reminder to artists of their moral responsibilities as public figures to invest in all aspects of their shows and ensure fans never have to prepare a funeral after attending their concerts.

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