The deadly incident at Astroworld; the importance of crowd control

The Houston concert has left nine dead and hundreds severely injured; how did this come about, and how could it have been avoided?


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The raging concert at Houston has traumatized and angered countless families.

Jasmin Parrado, Staff Writer

A Friday night like no other has tragically claimed the lives of nine concert-goers at the Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas; several others are fighting to survive immense injuries caused by the chaos of the events that unfolded.


Here is the situation: in the duration of American rapper Travis Scott’s performance at the concert holding 50,000 people, a crowd crush rapidly developed at around 9:38 P.M. (local time); that being the accumulation of attendants over capacity, implying potential harm to the lethal degree. Neither the performer nor his stage assistants took any immediate action upon being informed of what was happening. The failure of address to this issue and the subsequent absence of proper crowd control in time have resulted in the deaths of two high school students and a soon-to-be-husband among many other victims.


With the lethal consequences that transpired in wake of the crowd surge, there lies an essential and disturbing reminder of what lack of order and restriction on attendance can culminate to. Crowd experts and fans have made their claims: despite the general regulations of capacity that would usually apply to every concert, security allegedly watched the disaster of overcapacity unfold without doing anything to stop it, and the crowd surge advanced forward violently, leaving fans suffocating and struggling for their lives. Many were thrown over railings, trampled and hit; and now, numerous families have filed suits against Travis Scott and the enforcement agencies present that night. Scott has been criticized for his seemingly disconnected response to the incident.


Apparently, the artist’s past performances are infamous for quite intense audiences. In shows like the one in May 2017 at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, Scott faced the same amount of scrutiny and charges for allegedly provoking disorderly conduct and inciting a riot, for which he pleaded guilty. Earlier that year, a 23-year-old man was paralyzed after being pushed off a balcony three floors up at Terminal 5 in New York City during another one of Scott’s performances. Now, the consequences of the rapper’s encouragement for chaos have gravely left an air of disturbance and unrest amidst his fanbase and critics.


Numerous video recordings capture Scott’s reaction to the crowd surge. One recording circulated across social media with Scott standing and still performing as he observed an unconscious fan being carried away in the crowd. Another recording shows Scott saying his audience is “ready to rage” as he instructs everyone to put their middle fingers up. A particular recording shows audience members screaming for help and being ushered off by an Apple Music live-streamer.


Fans and editors hold varying perspectives on whether Scott’s reaction was not out of carelessness but out of pure ignorance of the severity of the matter at hand. Many say that due to his usual history of mosh-pit-esque concerts, he perceived the incident as simply another instance of fans getting injured left and right but not actually dying. This concert served a different case.


“If you were a performer who routinely encourages this type of chaos and you look out at this vast crowd and you see chaos, I can understand how he didn’t think that anything was going seriously wrong while playing,” Stereogum senior editor Tom Breihan explained in an interview for Slate.


Some agree with Breihan’s perspective and note that Scott’s shows are well known for their violently energetic attendants, egged on by his encouragement for chaotic interference and intense behaviors; others say that such signature preferences have always posed immense danger and should never have been spread or unaddressed for the duration of his concerts.


As of now, over a hundred plaintiffs have gone towards Scott in wake of the incident. Further investigation will be conducted to determine how the surge originated and what exactly transpired throughout the span of time.