“This Just Went Wrong Very Quickly”: 8 Dead, 300 Injured at Travis Scott Concert

Sophia Lindstrom, Contributing Writer

On Friday, November 6th, eight people died during Travis Scott’s first Astroworld performance since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2019. Casualties, including the three-hundred people who were treated at a field hospital and the twenty-three who were hospitalized, were attributed to crowd waves and stampedes beginning at around 9:15 PM that night. “Unruly” behavior was prevalent as early as 8:00 AM that morning. 

Live Nation Entertainment, the organization that facilitated the concert, is the largest live music promoter in the world. 50,000 people attended this festival, which headlined artists such as Tame Impala, Bad Bunny, and SZA, at a 350-acre facility called NRG Park in Houston, Texas. According to USA Today, 528 Houston Police Department officers and 755 Live Nation security officers worked at the event. 

“Heartbroken for those lost and impacted at Astroworld last night,” Live Nation said in a statement. “We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation.”

Security concerns surrounding the concert began over seven hours before Scott’s set. Early that afternoon, hundreds of concertgoers initiated a stampede, running through security checkpoints, knocking over metal detectors, and leaping over walls to position themselves in the venue according to the Washington Post. Additionally, the LA Times noted that The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expressed concerns regarding safety in concerts held by Live Nation in the past. 

The  Post reports that organizers of the concert claimed that nobody would be admitted to the concert without proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. However, many fans ran through barriers and otherwise avoided security measures. In response, security officers attempted to pull fans aside to check vaccination – even bringing in police on horseback – but the size and energy of the crowd prevented action from being taken. 

While other artists performed during the afternoon and early evening, Scott’s set did not begin until 9:30 PM. In a press conference, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said that by 9:15 PM, crowds “began to compress,” causing chaos and minor injuries. “People started to fall [down], become unconscious and it created additional panic,” Peña continued. The New York Post reports that the first death occurred at 9:38 PM. Peña attributes this casualty to the fact that the number of injuries grew rapidly and caused emergency responders to become significantly overwhelmed. 

According to The Washington Post, Travis Scott fan Desmond Gary was pushed to the front of the stage during the concert. While there were rescue carts, Gary observed that they moved “at a snail’s pace” due to the size and density of the crowd. He added that some attendees “started jumping and dancing on the carts, recording themselves as if it was cool.”

Gary said that when Drake, the guest performer, joined Scott onstage, the pushing intensified as rows of people were forced closer and closer to the stage. “We started getting, like, stacked up, like row by row just because we were getting pushed to, like, the front,” Gary recalled. 

Following the concert, some attendees took to Twitter to relay their experiences. Concertgoer Cody Hartt tweeted that nobody responded when he “screamed for help so many times, alerted security, [or] asked everyone in the crowd if there was anyone who was CPR certified.” 

At times, it was fans who took up the mantle as security and medical workers were considerably overwhelmed. Health worker and concert attendee Lauren Cude tweeted that she saw “untrained teens” delivering emergency CPR. As fan Lucas Naccarati puts it, “I did CPR on more people today at AstroWorld than 7 years in the Marine Corps.” 

According to the LA Times, one Astroworld attendee, Kristian Paredes, has already sued Scott, guest performer Drake, Live Nation, and the owner of NRG Stadium, Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. Paredes’ attorney, Thomas J. Henry made a statement saying, “live musical performances are meant to inspire catharsis, not tragedy.” He continued, “many of these concert-goers were looking forward to this event for months, and they deserved a safe environment in which to have fun and enjoy the evening. Instead, their night was one of fear, injury, and death.”

As of November 9th, eighteen lawsuits have been filed against Scott. The family of a nine-year-old injured during the crowd surges at Astroworld and is currently in a medically-induced coma is suing Scott for negligence. 

This is not the first time that Scott has been investigated for the consequences of his often-unruly concerts. Following a May 2017 show in Rogers, Arkansas, Scott faced three counts of misdemeanor charges and disorderly conduct. Additionally, he allegedly endangered the safety of a minor after encouraging fans to “rush the stage” and overwhelm security officers. Scott pleaded guilty to the disorderly conduct charge, requiring him to pay two injured attendees $6,000 each. 

“I hate getting arrested, man,” Scott said in his 2019 Netflix documentary, “Look Mom I Can Fly,” regarding the incident. In the documentary reported on by The Washington Post, a fan on crutches exclaims, “I survived, I survived! It’s all good.” 

Joy Guerra, a music critic for the Houston Chronicle, says that “Anybody who’s been to a Travis Scott show knows that..the energy exchange between him and the crowd is…really amped up.” Guerra continued, “[Scott] calls his fans ‘ragers’, so that kind of aggressive, high-pitched energy is, I think, a signature of his show.” 

“It ain’t a mosh pit if ain’t no injuries,” Scott said following a 2018 performance of his song “Stargazing.” 

Travis Scott Apology
(Travis Scott Apology via Twitter)

According to USA Today, Live Nation has been sued twice in the past: once in 2019 in which an employee was hit by a six-foot metal post, and once in 2016 when Lisa Keri Stricklin was injured at a Gwen Stefani concert they facilitated. At Astroworld in 2019, also held by Live Nation, a crowd stampede over barriers led to the hospitalization of three people. Live Nation has been either fined or sued for transgressions from crowd surges to equipment issues at a variety of venues since 2010. Even so, Live Nation estimates that roughly ninety-eight million fans have attended their shows around the world. 

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said that this tragedy could have been inevitable during a press conference reported on by USA Today. She also mentioned that “Live Nation had a security plan with NRG Park. Perhaps the plan was inadequate. Perhaps [plans] were good and weren’t followed. Perhaps it was something else entirely.”

Deaths due to crowd surges like those at Astroworld are relatively common, as at least 110 of these stampedes have occurred since 2000. According to the Washington Post, they can happen at sporting events, religious pilgrimages, and nightclubs, in addition to concerts. 

“It’s what people expect and what they go for,” Guerra continued. “When it’s in a controlled, safe environment…there’s nothing like it, in a good way. You know, this just kind of went wrong very quickly.”