Rapper paused only briefly during mayhem
Rapper Travis Scott is no stranger to the drama involving his concerts. His recent show at Astroworld Music Festival in Houston, Texas left 23 people injured and 10 dead.
Authorities are now investigating the incident that led to the worst tragedy regarding a music festival since the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nev.
The incident – where the youngest among the ones who died was only 9 years old—occurred on Friday, Nov. 5, around 9:30 p.m. when Scott was performing. He is also the founder of the Astroworld Music Festival.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, referred to the event as “a tragedy on many different levels” and pledged that “this incident is being thoroughly investigated.”
According to Turner, the 10 people who died were identified to range in ages from 9 to 27. Turner said there were “a lot of unanswered questions” which could take weeks of investigating.
“It may well be that this tragedy is the result of unpredictable events, of circumstances coming together that couldn’t possibly have been avoided,” said Judge Lina Hidalgo at a news conference. “But until we determine that, I will ask the tough questions.”
An estimated 50,000 people were attending Astroworld, an outdoor festival at NRG Park. Its capacity can hold up to 200,000 under the Houston fire code. Suddenly, at one point, crowds started to “compress toward the front of the stage,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said.
“That caused some panic and it started causing some injuries,” Peña added.
According to witnesses, it felt like there was no airflow and the crowd was being “compressed.” One described his experience as “a sardine in a can.”
Thirty minutes into Scott’s performance, the singer noticed red and blue lights and shouted into the crowd, “There’s an ambulance in the crowd. Whoa, whoa, whoa.”
He then paused briefly and continued with, “Y’all know what you came to do.”
The concert and his performance continued as if nothing happened.
However, according to law enforcement, the concert “ended early in the interest of public safety,” but Scott’s performance – which included 25 songs – continued for an estimated 40 minutes after the crowd incident took place.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner reassured that his people ended the event as fast as possible.
“[At] 9:30, right there, that’s when a few people started going down. Our people stepped up and immediately went to the producer and told him people are going down. This show ended at 10:10 p.m.,” Finner said. “You cannot just close when you have 50,000 individuals that young. You can have rioting.”
Turner said that there were 755 security guards supplied by Live Nation, a concert company, as well as 528 police officers who were at the scene.
While people were brought to local hospitals to be cared for, Scott—unaware of the aftermath at this time—decided to celebrate at an after-party hosted by rapper Drake.
However, this is not the first time Scott’s concerts got out of control. At the Lollapalooza festival in 2015, he encouraged fans to jump safety barricades, which resulted in hundreds of people storming the stage, causing a 15-year-old girl to be trampled. Scott pleaded guilty to charges of reckless conduct.
At another concert in 2017 in Arkansas, authorities said Scott urged fans to rush the stage. He also pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly conduct regarding that incident.
At the Astroworld concert, Scott did not encourage fans to storm the stage. But although he stopped for a brief moment to call security because someone passed out, he continued his performance.
Videos of fans show the distress during the entire performance, as fans were shouting, “Stop the show! Stop the show!” whenever a song stopped.
Of the injured fans, five appeared to be younger than 18. Four fans who survived were recently discharged from the hospital.
“The one person who can really call for and get a tactical pause when something goes wrong is that performer,” Peña said. “They have that bully pulpit and they have a responsibility. If somebody would have said, ‘Hey, shut this thing down and turn on the lights until this thing gets corrected’ — and that coming from the person with the mic — I think it could have been very helpful.”
On Twitter, Scott released a statement saying that he was “absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival.”