What was the cause of the tragedy at Astroworld Festival?
Before Woodstock & Coachella, the earliest recorded festivals date back to ancient Greece. The Greeks honored the gods by holding competitions in drama, poetry, music, and athletics. Fast forward to the modern day, and festivals have survived the test of time to evolve into mainstream businesses. Since Woodstock in 1969, festival organizers have been trying to recapture the magic & atmosphere.
In trying to recapture those things, it isn’t uncommon for festivals to go badly. Rain, floods, intense heat, and poor planning can result in disastrous outcomes. Every once in a while, however, these can end in death. This was the case for rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival, as it ended in the death of eight people.
Scott is an American rapper, singer, and record producer. His stage name is the namesake of a favorite uncle combined with the first name of one of his inspirations, Kid Cudi (whose real name is Scott Mescudi). Scott’s debut studio album, Rodeo (2015), was led by the hit single “Antidote.”
His second album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (2016), became his first number one album on the Billboard 200. The following year, Scott released a collaborative album with Quavo titled Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho under the group name Huncho Jack.
In 2018, his third studio album, Astroworld, was released to critical acclaim and produced his first Billboard Hot 100 number one single, “Sicko Mode” (featuring Drake). In late 2019, Scott’s record label Cactus Jack Records released the compilation album JackBoys, the first number one album on the Billboard 200 of the 2020s.
After releasing his single “Franchise” (featuring Young Thug and M.I.A.) in September 2020, Scott became the first artist on the Hot 100 to have three songs debut at number one in less than a year. He’s been nominated for eight Grammy Awards and won a Billboard Music Award and a Latin Grammy Award.
Following the release of Astroworld, Scott announced the Astroworld Festival, an annual festive concert that would take place across the street from Six Flags AstroWorld. The 2018 Astroworld Festival featured Post Malone, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Rae Sremmurd, Gunna, Houston All-Stars, Sheck Wes, Metro Boomin, Trippie Redd, Smokepurpp, Virgil Abloh, and Tommy Genesis.
The 2019 festival included appearances from Gucci Mane, Migos, Rosalia, Tay Keith, Pop Smoke, Young Thug, Young Dolph, Key Glock, Pharrell Williams, Sheck Wes, Marilyn Manson, DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, Don Toliver, Playboi Carti, and Houston All-Stars. The 2020 festival was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
At least eight people were killed, and dozens more were injured at the 2021 Astroworld festival on Friday night after a large crowd began pushing toward the front of the stage, the city’s fire chief said at a news conference.
During a performance by Scott, it “caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” said the Houston fire chief, Samuel Peña. The concert was part of a two-day event that began on Friday. About 50,000 people were there on Friday night, according to the Fire Department.
“It was like hell,” said Nick Johnson, 17, who still had his concert bracelet on as he spoke Saturday morning. “Everybody was just in the back, trying to rush to the front.” Twenty-three people were taken to nearby hospitals by emergency responders, Chief Peña said, adding that of those patients, eleven were in cardiac arrest. Over 300 people were treated at a “field hospital” at the site, he said.
Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement on Saturday, “What happened at the Astroworld Festival last night was tragic, and our hearts are with those who lost their lives and those who were injured in the terrifying crowd surge.”
As music festivals continue to be a cultural phenomenon that grows into a profitable industry annually, these disasters are not uncommon, and safety is rapidly becoming a growing concern. From drugs & heat stroke to the multiple instances of fans being trampled, safety is an aspect that needs to be addressed in the future. What are your thoughts on festivals?