From Expected Fun to Fatalities: The AstroWorld Festival

Photo of a Travis Scott fan’s Astroworld hoodie. Tuesday, November 11th, 2021. The Astroworld Festival tragedy has made many fans question their favorite artist’s behavior during the concert. (Samantha Nyazema)

Photo of a Travis Scott fan’s Astroworld hoodie. Tuesday, November 11th, 2021. The Astroworld Festival tragedy has made many fans question their favorite artist’s behavior during the concert. (Samantha Nyazema)

Over the weekend, a mass casualty event took place in Houston Texas’ NRG park. Those at the park were in attendance of rapper Travis Scott’s concert; the Astroworld Festival. This festival was a two-day event lasting from Friday, November 5th to Saturday, November 6th. At the concert, there were many other famous performers such as SZA, Drake and Roddy Rich. 

Fans, young and old, were excited to watch their favorite artists perform. These people were simply looking for a good time after such a tough closed-off year because of COVID-19.

However, the concert did not go as planned. 

50,000 people were packed into NRG Park. Many of them bought tickets, but there are several reports of people sneaking into the concert. There were also other claims of drugs being smuggled into the event.

Concertgoers struggled to breathe and move in the overcrowded area. As a result, many people fainted and were visibly weak. 

Some concertgoers reported that Scott pointed out pockets in the large crowd where medical attention was needed. Unfortunately, the concert’s issues continued. 

Travis Scott is known for his wild, energetic, euphoric shows and in the spirit of his typically uncontrolled concerts, around 8:40 PM, a mob of concertgoers rushed to the stage. 

The news reported that at approximately 9:05 PM, 8 people had died from this action. Though, because of the rowdy concert, only a handful of people knew about these deaths. 

When Scott saw the ambulance in the crowd, he stopped the show.

As concertgoers were deprived of their primary needs such as oxygen and food, ambulances arrived, chaos ensued; everyone started running and trampling over one another just to leave the area.

 By the end of the concert, an estimated 300 people were injured. As of now, there are 8 reported fatalities; the youngest being 14 and 16 years old.

This tragedy is extremely shocking and heart-rending. What adds to this shock factor are the videos that were taken of fans screaming for help, hoping that someone could hear their cries. 

Furthermore, clips of Scott seemingly seeing injured people have gone viral on many social media platforms.

  To hear what Longhorns thought of this calamity I conducted several interviews.

In my interview with Sophomore Theo Adejoro, he expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. He also explained to me that he was disappointed with Scott’s actions. When he first heard about this tragedy, he did a lot of research on it.

“It’s tragic…there were probably more than 8 victims, based on the accounts I heard, ” Adejoro speculated. “ Travis Scott had a birds-eye view of everything that was going on…he could clearly see the people who were being trampled on.”

Adejoro was particularly disgusted by a clip of Scott saying “Y’all know what you came to do,” after a young person was telling Scott how people were dying in the crowd.

“Travis Scott probably feels bad but he was still aware of what was going on,” Adejoro concluded, in reference to Scott’s apology video. He also believed that the apology was insincere.

 Junior Ziyaan Sayani shared similar beliefs. Sayani, who knew people who went to the concert, was upset with the unorganized planning of the event and Travis Scott.

“I just really hope that they get to the bottom of what really happened and that the world starts to realize what the music industry is,” Sayani stated passionately. 

He alluded to the idea that Scott cared more about profit than his fans.

In my conversation with Kennedy Hankinson, she told me that she had originally wanted to go to the concert and was heartbroken when she learned about the tragedy.

“I was shocked,” Hankinson promptly exclaimed. 

She went on to say that Scott should have stopped the concert as many celebrities such as Ariana Grande and Adele have used their jurisdiction to do so when needed. 

When I asked her if she had any last statements about the concert, I was left with chills.

“ It [Astroworld Festival] was advertised for families and children,” Hankinson candidly said.

This made me think of all the concertgoers who were involved in such a traumatic experience; they did not know what they were getting into. Hankinson’s statement further exacerbated the sadness I felt about the concert.

Junior Sriyesh Akam also had some opinions about the festival,

“I was mad”, Akam stated.

He even messaged Scott on Instagram. Akam communicated to me that even though he knew Scott would never respond, he wanted the rapper to know how he felt.

The message was full of critiques and anger because he believed Travis Scott could have better managed the event and somewhat prevented some of the pandemonia.

Akam also discussed how Scott’s concert and album decor was linked to the tragedy. Like many, he entertained the conspiracy of demonic work coming into play. It was clear that he felt that the tragedy was tied to something bigger. He had formed this opinion from pictures he saw being analyzed on social media.

Along with what people thought of the Astroworld Festival, I wanted to know how people felt about future concerts after this unexpected casuistic event.

I asked Junior Neal Bhalla how he felt about going to concerts after learning about the Astroworld Festival deaths.

“I am very afraid,” Bhalla revealed.

Overall, even though I got different views from each person, they all agreed on one thing: Travis Scott and the event coordinators were to blame. My interviewees also thought that there should have been more security and medical aid available as well.

These interviews provided me with new information and different opinions which helped me form my own thoughts on the event.

When I first heard of the Astroworld Festival fatalities, my reaction was a combination of sadness, shock and anger. To those who heard and ignored the desperate pleas of concertgoers and had the power to stop the concert, I am absolutely outraged by your actions. Those people did not deserve to die at a concert. 

When I saw the ages, I was shocked at how these victims were stripped of living out their life. I was deeply saddened because the youngest were high schoolers just like me. They probably had a quiz this week or were planning to have a Friendsgiving. It just made me realize how devastation is blind; it attacks anyone, not seeing whose life it takes.

I think that Travis Scott did not handle the show to the best of his ability and I understand how people see that he failed his fans. As a performer, you should be prepared to stop and interact with your audience. However, I think that with all the lights and noise, Scott was probably unable to notice some things.

More incidents would have been noticed if certain precautions were taken. The concert could have improved in many categories; there should have been more security, medical assistance and medical resources. On top of that, the venue holders should have decreased their max limit so that there would be more room for concertgoers. Additionally, people attending the festival should have practiced concert etiquette; they should not have run to the stage. 

From this terrible happening in Texas, celebrities and music venue hosts should learn a lesson. They are all responsible for protecting concertgoers and should do anything they can to fulfill their tasks.

My heart goes out to all who experienced this disturbing event. For the grieving families and friends of the victims, I hope your loved ones rest in peace and that you are able to peacefully mourn and reach a place of tranquility.