You Don’t Wish You Were There



The Astroworld stage moments before the mass casualties in the crowd

Arya Kaul, Staff Writer

On Friday, November 5th, ten people were killed and hundreds were injured at Travis Scott’s Astroworld music festival in Houston, Texas. It is unclear whether a single event or a combination of multiple factors triggered the chaos which resulted in the tragic deaths of these individuals.

Houston fire chief Sam Pena told CNN, “The crowd for whatever reason began to push and surge towards the front of the stage, which caused the people in front to be compressed – they were unable to escape that situation.”According to witnesses, the situation escalated as Scott’s appearance on stage drew closer. About 30 minutes before Travis Scott took the stage, the crowd got more packed and rowdy. Alexis Guavin, one of the numerous concert goers, told CNN that “[o]nce he started, all hell broke loose. All of what is to be 50,000 people ran to the front, compressing everyone together with the little air available.”

People in the audience said that concert attendees could not escape the packed crowd once things started to go awry, and according to the Associated Press, some audience members were packed into “closet sized” barricaded areas to separate certain ticket holders. Authorities have claimed that the venue met the criteria for safe entry and exit; however, the videos and pictures that have resurfaced from that night show otherwise. According to the New York Times, some videos showed a person climbing onto a platform where a camera operator was filming and asking for the show to stop, yelling that people were dying. Some other people can be heard downplaying this attendee’s pleas, saying that he should calm down (New York Times). Other videos display fans blocking ambulances and jumping on top of security vehicles on the premises.

Authorities have identified the ten victims in the Astroworld tragedies as John Hilgert, age 14, Axel Acosta, age 21, Danish Baig, age 27, Rudy Pena, age 23, Franco Patino, age 21, Madison Dubiski, age 23, Bharat Shahani, age 22, and lastly, Ezra Blount, age 9. Ramapo High School junior Lauren Markarian shared her feelings about the tragedy saying, “My heart goes out to all of the families and lives that were lost.” She pleaded that “[i]n the future, we need to be more aware of our surroundings and not let something get out of control. If someone needs help, call and get help immediately.” Ramapo social studies teacher Mr. Verdon had a similar response saying “I was deeply saddened to read about the tragic events that unfolded during the Astroworld music festival in Houston last month. After months of COVID restrictions and postponements of concerts nationally, it is particularly devastating that eight young people lost their lives at an event that was meant to bring people together in celebration. As details of this crowd control disaster continue to come to light, it raises so many questions about concert safety and the need for better planning going forward.”

The main area of controversy is Travis Scott not stopping the concert right away once the chaos started. Houston Chronicle music critic, Joey Guerra, told CNN, “[Scott] did stop the show, I want to say, three or four times when he noticed people in distress.” He also stated that Scott continued the show for over an hour before completely ending it, and people are upset that he did not immediately end the show. According to his lawyer, Ed McPherson, Astroworld organizers would have stopped the show if the police had told them to. Scott, nor Scott’s crew, were completely aware of the intensity of the situation (ABC News).

As a result of this tragedy, Travis Scott is in hot water and is facing numerous lawsuits against himself, Live Nation, and others associated with the production of this festival. Travis Scott tweeted the next day saying, “I’m absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at the Astroworld Festival.” He and his girlfriend, Kylie Jenner, are facing backlash for their handling of the situation both in the moment and on social media.