Travis Scott deserves some, not all, of the blame for Astroworld incident

By BRIAN SCHMID
On November 8, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Especjo-Saavedra, Flickr

A tragedy took place in Houston, Texas on Nov. 5, as eight people were killed and many more were injured at Travis Scott’s annual Astroworld Festival, presumably due to suffocation and trampling.

Something like this should never happen at a music festival. Nobody should go to an event where they are supposed to have a good time and wonder, “Am I going to make it out of here alive?”

Despite this festival being held before, it still seemed as though the venue and concert promotion company, Live Nation, were not entirely prepared for an event like this. However, I have seen a lot of unfair blame on Scott himself on social media, saying that he was well aware that people were dying in his crowd yet he continued to brush it off. In my opinion, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

That is not to say Scott deserves no blame whatsoever, because he does. He has created this “rage culture” for his fans that basically says forget all rules, just go crazy. This persona has gotten him in trouble with the law in the past for inciting small riots at his concerts. In this scenario, the rage culture got too out of hand and it resulted in tragedy. That part is Scott’s fault, but I think he is being blamed for a lot more stuff that was out of his control.

For one, the security at this event was severely lacking. The festival sold 50,000 tickets, but there were presumably people who were able to get in due to crowds rushing the weak attempt at barricades security set up. In 2019, Scott held this same event where the same amount of tickets were sold and there were no problems. However, with this increase in crowd size, things were bound to go wrong.

The medical staff on hand was not nearly equipped enough for an event of this magnitude. Scott is one of the largest artists around at this point, and this Astroworld Festival is his main event, so it was bound to be full of his fans who embrace his rage culture.

Unfortunately, it is not all that uncommon for people to pass out at festivals of this size, and it is definitely not uncommon to witness at a Travis Scott event. The paramedic staff should have been thoroughly looked at beforehand. There was a report of one ICU nurse who had originally attended the event but ended up having to help paramedics because they did not know CPR. That simply cannot happen at any event, but this is not even the full extent.

Apparently, in addition to not enough paramedics, there were also zero AEDs on hand. That is not only inane in itself, but it is also illegal as all public places are required to have at least one. This complete lack of preparation is on both Live Nation — a company that has been linked to about 200 deaths since 2006 — and the venue, NRG Park.

I have seen Scott getting a lot of heat on social media about him failing to stop his concert once he saw people were hurt. Once again, it is common to see people pass out at Travis Scott festivals as he is notorious for having insane crowds. He was not aware that people were dying until after the performance. It would have been impossible for him to hear small crowds chanting to end the show over the blaring music right behind him, and nobody on his team communicated well with him.

In addition to this, a police report has been recently released saying that Scott did not even have the authority to stop his own festival, and that the only people who had that power were the executive producer and the festival director. Even then, he stopped performing multiple times throughout his set so paramedics could do their jobs.

A lot of people are saying he should have cut his show short. Could you imagine the crowd reaction of more than 50,000 people — most of whom were young adults and teenagers who were already in this “rage” mentality — if he just said “show’s over”? I’m sure there would have been tons of riots and a potentially even more dangerous environment.

Scott does deserve some blame for what happened at Astroworld Festival, but definitely not the brunt of it. That should go to the festival promoters and the venue itself for not providing proper resources. We should not be cancelling Scott over factors that were above his control, but of course looking at it in hindsight it seems as though he contributed to this mess much more than he actually did.

bschmid@ramapo.edu

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