The Astroworld Festival - A Concert for Ragers
What Houston saw on Friday, November 5 was the most terrifying live concert in US history. With nine deaths and hundreds getting injured, a criminal investigation by homicide and narcotics division has been going on. The accountability of the tragic incident is yet to be taken. Meanwhile, Travis Scott, Drake and Live Nation have been sued by several concert-goers. The videos from the concert have blown the internet and a heated debate over its accountability has taken over. With many believing that Travis Scott who was an integral part of the organising committee, should be held responsible, let's reason out why?
Travis In The Trap
Travis Scott is doing his utmost to defend himself from accusations of being responsible for the catastrophic concert in Texas by finishing his set, despite the audience's urgent pleas to stop the show.' However, with social media taking over his life, his image is likely to suffer.
On the concert night, people began to collapse at 9.39 p.m., according to the Houston Chronicle. However, Scott seemed to finish his act, according to the publication. The artist completed his set at 10.15 PM, i.e., 36 minutes after the calamity became obvious.
Social Media has taken this disaster to another level and video evidence suggests that despite his assertions that he wasn’t aware of what was happening, he continued with his concert. The concert attendees have posted videos of La Flame online, where he can be heard saying “ Who asked me to stop? You all know what you came here to do.”
Additional footage of the concert shows Scott on stage being approached by two men who appeared to be part of the crew but he quickly dismisses them before continuing onwards, telling the crowd that he wants them to make “the ground shake”.
Apart from this, the organizers of the concert created a landscape that was dangerous from the start. A crowd of about 50,000 people were being handled by a minuscule amount of security among whom few were even untrained and thus, failed to keep the crowd in control. The crowd was so thick that there was barely enough room for ambulances and police cars to navigate through it. Not even the barriers placed at the front could withstand the strength of the crowd as people toppled over one another creating mayhem and eventually, deathbeds for about 10 people.
"People want to be in front of the stage where the artists are, so they tend to move forward. And if you don't manage the crowd, people are going to be crushed," (The Organizers) allowed the event to become overcrowded in front of the stage, which is a known danger area." [Paul Wertheimer, the founder of Crowd Management Strategies in an interview with the Insider]
Moreover, reports suggest that Jacques attended the Astroworld After-party at Dave & Buster’s hosted by Drake and was “unaware of what had taken place”. He left the place on Saturday morning as the news of deaths were highlighted.
Raging Or Rampaging
Travis has a history of chaotic concerts. Moreover, he has often been accused and jailed for encouraging the chaos. His musical concerts are filled with a manic rage as he urges his fans to breach security and behave recklessly -- an important aspect of his appeal.
2015 - Travis enticed people to climb over the barricades and onto the stage with him during the Chicago Festival, for which he was charged with reckless conduct.
2017 - He invited supporters to overrun security and rush to the stage during one of his gigs. Following that, he was charged with inciting a riot, disorderly behaviour, and endangering the welfare of a juvenile, all of which were misdemeanours. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay over $6000 to the two victims who were injured during his act.
2018 - Hitting the people with Astroworld’s intro “Stargazing,” the rapper revealed in his crowds’ heaving energy screaming ”it ain’t a mosh pit if ain’t no injuries.”
2019- Astroworld festival had witnessed a similar situation along with the death of three fans as they were trampled at the gates.
Allegation & Accountability
The crowd at La Flame’s concerts are known to be notoriously violent and aggressive and have been dubbed as ‘ragers. In fact, the artist himself has often been arrested for inciting fans to go “Sicko Mode”. Moreover, the producers of the festival have faced lawsuits highlighting unsafe conditions at their concerts yet things remained the same and the crowd had to witness the tragedy. It comes off as surprising that the same producers, organising the same event at the same venue with the same crowd, bigger this time, hadn’t foreseen the incoming tragedy.
The defendants have iterated Travis’ “unawareness” of the crowd crush as “had he known he would’ve stopped the show.” In the current heated debate over social media and the considerable amount of evidence produced against him, the defendant’s statement is lost like a pin in a haystack.
Witnesses have said that Travis saw a lifeless body surfing over the crowd and yet, ignored it. Scott was aware of the happenings and still got the crowd more pumped up like feeding the crowd with his rage, all the while the fans were in distress.
Under an ongoing criminal investigation for the cause of deaths, at least 46 civil lawsuits against the defendants (Travis Scott, Drake and Live Nation) have been filed. The Public desperately demands a name to be put ahead of them but it appears to be highly unlikely that Travis Scott would be the one suffering “criminal liability”. Nonetheless, he would have to face severe criminal repercussions regardless of how horrible the circumstances turn out to be.
A Probable ‘Redemption’
Travis Scott through his tweet, last Monday, expressed his concern for what happened at the concert and is “absolutely devastated”. To make up for the losses, he has pledged to cover funeral costs for all victims who died as a result of Friday’s events and is also offering to cover the cost of mental counselling through BetterHelp.
But, it seems that social media isn’t happy with this offer as Twitteratis took to criticizing the offer.
Although BetterHelp denied it was being sponsored by Travis Scott or “profiting by selling people's data to advertisers or third parties.", the privacy policies mentioned on its site says people’s information may be shared “for business and advertising purposes.” Furthermore, the site explicitly states that it is not intended for minors even though the concert consisted of several teenagers, and speculation hits its peak as people question these undoubtedly strange and uncanny ways to help others recover from their trauma.
Astroworld Fest: It’s NOT Lit
The tragedy at Houston has shaken everybody, especially those witnessing it. The losses incurred are immeasurable and so vast that they can never be mended. And when a large portion of the concert attendees are young people, as young as a ten-year-old, a half-hearted attempt by Travis to redeem the losses is pathetic.
While Travis did play a role in inciting a crowd, taking full accountability for the incident is something that’s not his forte yet he won’t be able to escape the lawsuits filed by the victims and several concert-goers. Furthermore, the organising committee was undoubtedly reckless enough to organise such a huge crowd with minimal security once again. The festival was not lit, as was the artist. If the investigation fails and the victims of Astroworld 2021 do not seek justice this time, it will be shocking to one and all.
Several reports have called the recent calamity “history repeating itself” alluding to the 2019 Astroworld fest which was quite similar. And has raised queries about how and since when have concerts become more important than the life of a human being for an artist, especially when the people are his fans?
~ Aishwarya Singh
Sources ~ Business Insider, Insider, ThePittNews, National World, BBC, LA Times, Fox News, USA today, BuzzFeed