The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
“Astroworld” is an annual music festival hosted by Travis Scott and after last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19, the anticipation for this year’s festival was high for die-hard fans. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in what is now referred to as a mass casualty incident after nine people died and hundreds were injured. So, what really happened? And why should Travis Scott be held accountable for what went wrong?
SO WHAT EVEN HAPPENED?
The festival was intended to be a two-day event from Nov. 5-6, but the festival was canceled after a disastrous first day. On the morning of Nov. 5, there were already signs of trouble before the start of the event. Logs from Houston Police Department and Fire Department reveal multiple breaches of the main gate, security checkpoints, COVID testing checkpoints and the merchandise line throughout the day.
Prior to Scott taking the stage around 9 p.m., there was a 30-minute countdown set up to arouse the audience. Instead, it triggered a crowd surge as concert-goers compressed toward the front, crushing and trampling one another, at which point the Houston Police Department declared the event as a mass casualty incident.
Scott went on stage anyway, and 30 minutes into his set, he paused to acknowledge the ambulance driving through the crowds trying to reach those injured. Throughout the 90 minute performance, there were multiple instances in which Scott acknowledged the mayhem and raised attention to security carts or ambulances trying to reach the injured parties. However, he would quickly return back to his set, energizing the crowd by asking them to “make this ground shake” or make the “earthquake,” all without checking if the aid ever reached the injured parties.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Travis Scott fans and festival attendees are split on who should be held accountable. Fans have come to his defense, expressing that Scott is being unfairly used as a scapegoat because his name and brand are attached to the event. Some of his supporters contend that concert organizers are to blame because they were at fault for understaffing the event.
On the other hand, many people are calling Scott out for his relative inaction during his set as people were getting injured. Music lovers and concert-goers have taken to Twitter to share clips of other artists such as Chester Bennington, Harry Styles, Adele, Lady Gaga and Blackpink, who stopped their shows when they saw the crowd get rowdy, making sure injured parties received medical attention before returning to their set or appealing the crowd to be respectful of one another.
Moreover, it seems like people are especially upset at Scott’s response to the tragedy. After his set, Scott shared a lackluster apology video on his Instagram stories that felt scripted and devoid of genuine empathy, which he received extensive backlash for. Since then, Scott’s lawyer Edwin F. McPherson has been shameless making the rounds to every news and media outlet, using plausible deniability to argue that Scott was not aware of how severe the situation was until after the set and also directing blame to anyone except Scott himself.
In these interviews, McPherson has blamed anything and anyone from the Houston Police Department, to the festival director and executive producers, to the flooring at the venue for not being up to “industry standards.” Ironically, McPherson is calling for Houston city officials to stop finger-pointing at Scott.
While Travis Scott isn’t solely responsible for the tragedy, he is still at partial fault and should be held accountable. In the past, Scott’s concerts have a reputation for being rowdy and Scott himself has a history of inciting crowds. In 2015, Scott was arrested and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for inciting a crowd to jump the barriers at Lollapalooza. Similarly, in 2017, he was again arrested and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for encouraging the crowd to breach the barricade and overrun security.
His recklessness and failure to understand the influence his words have over his fans is unacceptable, considering how famous he is. His arrest records show that he had been cautioned to stop inciting chaos at his shows, and yet, he willingly chooses to continue to put his fans at risk. So yes, Travis Scott should be held accountable in addition to the concert organizers for this preventable tragedy.