Musician Travis Scott — real name Jacques Berman Webster II — performed at his annual Astroworld show earlier this month after canceling the show last year due to concerns of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, the return to live music at this venue turned deadly. During the show, at least 10 people died and hundreds more were injured.
While the initial cause was rumored to be linked to drug-related activity within the crowd, authorities have discounted this. Rather, the incident is more likely linked to weak security, poor crowd control, and poor communication.
Before the show, there were over 1,000 security officers present outside the venue — a visible increase in security from the previous show in 2019. Unfortunately, the increase in security was not enough to stop the crowd that rushed the gates around noon on the day of the concert. By 4 p.m., medical staff had already treated at least 54 patients, according to the Houston Police Department’s activity log. The log also acknowledged dangerous crowd conditions around this time. Despite this, the show proceeded as planned.
The venue is designed to have two stages so that the crowd may be split among the two, but there were no other performances scheduled at the time of Scott’s show, allowing all 50,000 people to convene around a single stage.
There were no shows scheduled for the time window just before Scott’s show, which granted the estimated 50,000 attendees (not including those who entered illegally) to gather and ramp up the excitement as the stage’s timer began to countdown to the show. As the counter counted closer to the performance, the massive crowd was already beginning to push dangerously close to the stage.
At the beginning of the show, audience members can already be seen struggling to stay upright. Footage of the event shows clear signs of distress in the crowd closer to the stage not 10 minutes into the performance.
Some claim that the incident stems from a complete lack of acknowledgement from Scott. While it is arguable that Webster failed to appropriately acknowledge and take action against the dangerous conditions, the musician did pause the show at multiple instances to acknowledge the scene as you can see in this video.
In the video, Webster pauses the show and directs security to assist an attendee that had passed out in the intense crowd before proceeding with the show despite crowd pleas not to.
Webster paused the show twice more during the night’s performance — once upon seeing another audience member pass out and another time to respond to an ambulance in the crowd.
According to the festival’s event plans, the only two people with the authority to stop the show entirely are the executive producer and Webster himself, who acted as the festival’s director. Although the show’s promoter Live Nation had agreed to stop the show due to the dangerous conditions, Webster continued the performance under worsening conditions.
Scott’s attorney claimed that he was unaware of the situation in the crowd during the performance, but many do not believe his claims. Many voices in the pursuing outrage claim that, aside from the footage of him acknowledging the crowd, it would be very difficult for Webster to not be aware of the situation from his viewpoint on the stage.
The charges brought to light previous controversies of his, including charges he faced in 2015 after his performance at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago after he encouraged fans to rush the gates. Webster pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and paid a fine.
In 2017, Webster faced further charges after being arrested immediately after a show in Arkansas. During the show, Webster reportedly encouraged dangerous behavior in the crowd, including encouraging audience members to climb onto the stage. Below is footage of that concert, in which Webster briefly paused the show to encourage an audience member to leap from the balcony.
Webster posted an apology video on his Instagram following the incident, but it failed to come across as sincere. Many state that the phrase “I’m sorry” is never once heard in the video, but others state that Webster may have been instructed to avoid this phrase to avoid any admissions of guilt. The video is also vague and lacks personal connection with the rapper and gives off an otherwise “obligatory apology video” vibe. It is difficult to describe it in words, so the video in linked below.
Investigations surrounding the tragedy are still ongoing, but there were an estimated 10 deaths and several hundred injuries from the out-of-control crowd. While the identities of those who died during the event have been publicly released, I will not be including them in this article in respect to the families and ongoing investigations. The full video of the concert is included here, but be advised that the distressed crowd and audibly panicked crowd can be difficult to watch.