Friday, November 5th, was the third installment of the Astroworld music festival featuring Travis Scott at NRG Park in Houston, Texas. Little did the over 50,000 concertgoers know that the night would end in disaster.
Like years past, fans had jumped over barriers and rushed the gates in the afternoon before the concert started. According to Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña, at least one person was injured at this time. Houston’s police chief, Troy Finner, had made his safety concerns clear to Scott before he took the stage.
About a half-hour before Scott appeared on stage at 9 p.m., a countdown clock was displayed. Nurse Madeline Eskins was in attendance and described her experience: “All of a sudden, people compressed up against each other and were pushing forward and backward. As the timer got closer to coming down to zero, it…got worse and worse.”
According to another member of the crowd, “as soon as [Scott] jumped out on the stage, it was like an energy took over and everything went haywire…your ribs are being crushed. You have someone’s arm in your neck. You’re trying to breathe, but you can’t.” Alexis Gauvin, another audience member, explained that when Scott started his performance, “all of what is to be 50,000 people ran to the front, compressing everyone together with the little air available.” This feeling of being squeezed until you couldn’t breathe was rampant among the crowd. Emily Munguia told CNN that she “felt so scared, like [she] was going to die.”
Audience members could see others getting injured, passing out, bleeding, and fighting for a breath. It was impossible for anyone to escape the crowd, and people began to fall and get trampled. Seanna Faith McCarty, one of the concert-goers, posted a now-viral account on Instagram of her experience, describing how “one person fell, or collapsed, it doesn’t matter how it started. Once one fell, a hole opened up in the ground…Person after person were sucked down…You were at the mercy of the wave.” Layers of people were collapsing on top of one another. McCarty begged a nearby cameraman on a platform for help, but he refused, and the concert continued. Security was no help either.
Concert-goers claim that Scott stopped performing “3 to 4 times” to ask for help for members of the audience, and it was agreed that the concert would be cut short, but Scott continued to perform for 37 minutes after first responders were made aware of the casualties, finishing his entire setlist. That 37 minutes made all the difference. It meant that the first responders would not be able to reach people in need of medical attention in time.
Over 300 people were being treated at a field hospital set up near the festival. At least 8 people were killed. The victims were 14, 16, 21, 21, 23, 23, and 27, and others are currently in critical condition.
In light of these facts, Scott, Drake (who also performed), Live Nation (the event organizer), and Scoremore (who promoted the concert) are being sued by angry families and attendees. Scott is paying for all the victims’ funerals and has offered refunds for all attendees. He put out a statement on Twitter, 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 Astroworld Festival. Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life. I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need. Thank you to Houston PD, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their immediate response and support. Love You All.” The FBI has also joined the investigation.
Concerts are meant to be a place for fun. None of these attendees went expecting the mass casualties and losses of life that occurred. Concert promoters and artists must do more to prevent further catastrophes like this one.