On Friday (Nov. 5) roughly 50,000 music fans gathered in Houston for the return of Astroworld music festival for the third installment of Travis Scott’s gift to his hometown. With an impressive lineup headlined by the “SICKO MODE” artist himself, acts ranging from SZA and 21 Savage to Earth, Wind, & Fire, and Master P were set to blaze the stage at the sold-out two-day event.
However, those who had hoped for a weekend of raging instead ended up attending a mass casualty event that left at least eight people dead and dozens more injured.
During the festival, overcrowding and other factors contributed to an unsafe environment. Videos began to pour in on social media of patrons begging for the show to stop as concertgoers struggled to breathe as swarms of people pushed towards the stage. Emergency vehicles entered the crowd as people attempted to escape to safety.
Developments have been made in understanding the primary elements that ultimately led to Astroworld’s tragic ending. With multiple confirmed deaths, including a 14-year-old, Houston authorities have assured the public that a full investigation will transpire as the city attempts to provide closure to those affected.
At Least Eight People, Including Two Minors, Are Confirmed Dead, Dozens Injured
According to the Associated Press, a crowd surge resulted in the deaths of at least eight people on the first night of Astroworld music festival 2021. The ages of the confirmed fatalities ranged from 14 to 27 years old. As of Saturday (Nov. 6), at least 13 people remained hospitalized due to injuries and ailments resulting from the event.
“It may well be that this tragedy is the result of unpredictable events, of circumstances coming together that couldn’t possibly have been avoided,” said Judge Lina Hidalgo.
Victims have been identified as two high school students, college students, and a man who died in an attempt to save his fiancée. CNN reported the publicly named casualties as 14-year-old John Hilgert, 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, 20-year-old Jacob Jurinek, 21-year-old Franco Patino, 23-year-old Rodolfo Peña, and 27-year-old Danish Baig. One victim remained unknown until Sunday (Nov. 7) and while their name has not been released to the public, their family has been notified.
GoFundMe issued a landing page hosting verified campaigns for three victims as of Monday morning (Nov. 8).
The Washington Post reported at least 25 people were taken to a hospital Friday night, and a 10-year-old child was in critical condition. As of Saturday afternoon, 13 were still hospitalized including five minors.
Houston Authorities Plan Full Investigation
On Sunday (Nov. 7), the Houston Police Department confirmed an investigation is “very active and is in its early stages,” and department services remained available to those seeking information on loved ones who were in attendance.
“There’s a criminal investigation underway at this point in time,” Mayor Sylvester Turner told CNN. He assured “a detailed review of everything that has taken place. It will take probably weeks if not longer, and I’m sure that what took place will be looked at from many different angles, as well as it should be.”
According to The New York Times, Houston police chief Troy Finner reportedly visited Scott ahead of his performance and shared concerns for the safety of the event. While the show ended early, it was almost 40 minutes after a “mass casualty event” had been declared by city officials.
Fire Chief Samuel Peña said Scott and organizers should have paused the show. “The one person who can really call for and get a tactical pause when something goes wrong is that performer. They have that bully pulpit and they have a responsibility,” Chief Peña said to the Times. “If somebody would have said, ‘Hey, shut this thing down and turn on the lights until this thing gets corrected’—and that coming from the person with the mic—I think could have been very helpful.”
A press conference occurred after the tragedy where Finner confirmed investigators were dispatched to NRG Park where the festival was held as well as hospitals where patrons were transported following the melee.
“Everybody in our city, pray for these families, we gon’ get through it,” he remarked. “We are going to [do] an investigation and find out because it’s not fair to the producers, to anybody else involved until we determine what happened…we will find out.”
Travis Scott Has Issued A Statement, Cancels Upcoming Show
The 30-year-old took to social media to share written and video statements regarding the tragic events at his festival.
“I am 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,” Scott wrote in a statement shared to Twitter on Saturday morning. “I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.”
— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) November 6, 2021
On his Instagram story, the chart-topping rapper shared a video extending the apologetic tone of the aforementioned statement. Recorded with a black and white filter, the video was shared on Twitter by various accounts.
“My fans really mean the world to me,” expressed the “HOUSTONFORNICATION” artist. “We’ve been working closely with everyone to try and get to the bottom of this.”
— richlux713 (@RichLux713) November 7, 2021
Variety reported Scott revealed all ticket buyers for Astroworld Festival will be refunded for their purchase. He has also been described as “too distraught to play” at Day N Vegas, another music festival set for this weekend (Nov. 12–14). The 30-year-old performer was booked as the headlining act on Saturday (Nov. 13) at the large event.
Other billed performers for the three-day event are Kendrick Lamar, who is set to headline on Friday (Nov. 12), and Tyler, the Creator booked as the headlining act on Sunday (Nov. 14). A replacement for Scott has yet to be announced.
Lawsuits Have Already Been Filed
By Saturday, legal action against Travis Scott and Live Nation had been pursued. According to Variety, one of the first filings was made by Houston resident Manuel Souza filed suit Saturday in the District Court of Houston who claimed to sustain injuries during the event.
“As proud residents of Houston, we are sickened by the devastating tragedy that took place on Friday night. Travis Scott has a history of inciting violence and creating dangerous conditions for concertgoers. In fact, he tweeted that he would let the wild ones in after the show sold out. He and those who promoted and supported this concert must take responsibility for their heinous actions. We intend to hold them fully accountable by showing that this behavior will not be tolerated in our great city,” said Ryan S. MacLeod, one of the attorneys representing Souza.
In Souza’s lawsuit, he says he “suffered serious bodily injuries when the uncontrolled crowd at the concert knocked him to the ground and trampled him,” saying that “the injuries were the inevitable and predictable result of defendants’ conscious disregard of the extreme risks of harm to concertgoers that had been escalating since hours earlier.” It includes a screenshot of a tweet from Scott’s Twitter account in which, he allegedly encouraged fans to sneak in, and not let the sold-out show stop them from attending without tickets.
On Sunday, another plaintiff, Kristian Paredes, included Drake in her lawsuit against Scott. Drake was a surprise guest during the festival, causing excitement from the already hyped crowd. Her lawsuit claims she “suffered severe bodily injuries” including some “permanent.”
“There is every indication that the performers, organizers, and venue were not only aware of the hectic crowd but also that injuries and potential deaths may have occurred. Still, they decided to put profits over their attendees and allowed the deadly show to go on,” said Paredes’ legal representation Thomas J. Henry.
Attorney Ben Crump is representing victims from the event and has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 21-year-old attendee Noah Gutierrez who attended the Astroworld Festival in a VIP section. He has launched a website, AstroworldClaimsHelp.Com to invite people to submit for a free claim review if they or a loved one were impacted by the tragic event, including physical injury, death, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
NEWS ALERT: @AttorneyCrump has issued a statement & is representing victims in the aftermath of the Travis Scott Astroworld concert, including 21-year-old Noah Gutierrez who described a scene of chaos and desperation. pic.twitter.com/Tfo5EA4mVL
— Ben Crump Law, PLLC (@BenCrumpLaw) November 7, 2021
Celebrities React To The Tragedy
West Coast rapper Roddy Ricch, who performed at Astroworld, revealed he planned to donate his profits from the festival to families devastated by the events. Kanye West hosted a Sunday Service, the rapper’s faith-based pop-up shows including musical performances and prayers, dedicated to “the loved ones of Astroworld.”
SZA, who performed before Travis Scott took the stage, shared a message on Twitter after she learned of the night’s horror.
“Speechless about last night I’m actually in shock n don’t even know what to say” shared the “Good Days” singer. “Just praying for everyone in Houston especially the families of those that lost their lives.”
Speechless about last night I’m actually in shock n don’t even know what to say .. just praying for everyone in Houston especially the families of those that lost their lives ???
— SZA (@sza) November 6, 2021
Another performer, Hip-Hop mogul Master P, shared a video of his performance of “I Miss My Homies” from his set on Instagram with the caption, “Life is too short, tell your loved ones you love them when you walk out the door because you never know.”
Don Toliver, who is signed to Scott’s Cactus Jack label shared, “Praying for all of those we lost and their loved ones. Houston 4Ever” on his Instagram story. BIA, who was slated to perform on the festival’s second day, shared a similar message on her own platform.
Metro Boomin and Kid Cudi both shared prayerful messages via social media.
Praying for all the families and loved ones involved ??????
— Metro Boomin (@MetroBoomin) November 7, 2021
Really messed up about the news at Astroworld. My heart goes out to the families who lost a loved one lastnight and everyone who was injured. Sad fuckin day man
— The Chosen One : I ? YOU FRESHIE 4EVER (@KidCudi) November 6, 2021
In a now-deleted tweet Stefflon Don expressed her disappointment in Scott for the deadly festival.
“As an artist, a mother and a human being I am so upset with Travis Scott,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “He saw an ambulance in the crowd while people were screaming for help saying ‘people are dying’ which he clearly heard but still continued to perform. Allot [sic] of kids died because of negligence.”
One user shared a screenshot asking why she deleted her post, to which the British rapper replied, “I hate this whole ‘cancel’ thing I do not want no parts of it. I am all for calling someone out and holding them accountable but this new internet wants everyone to just disappear and die after a mistake.”
I deleted it because I hate this whole “cancel” thing I do not want no parts of it. I am all for calling someone out and holding them accountable but this new internet wants everyone to just disappear and die after a mistake. It’s 2harsh,and unrealistic. Bring back conversations. https://t.co/OZ4lrphOYm
— 1DON (@stefflondon) November 7, 2021
Social Media Accounts Share Varying Experiences
Early Friday afternoon, checking the #AstroworldFEST hashtag across social media initially flooded feeds with images of concertgoers in band-T-shirts excited for a live show after the coronavirus pandemic temporarily halted many public events in 2020. Gates did not open until 1 p.m. however, video footage from ABC Houston showed thousands gathered as early as 11 a.m. for merchandise and entry.
ASTROWORLD FESTIVAL: The gates don't open until 1 p.m. to get into @trvisXX @astroworldfest, and he won't take the stage for hours, but that hasn't stopped this massive crowd from lining up early to get their merchandise. https://t.co/mwVrOdwTjl pic.twitter.com/ERSUpz8jPg
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) November 5, 2021
As the event progressed, video footage of fans rushing an entrance went viral on Twitter. Uploaded at 12:28 p.m., the jarring footage shows hundreds of eager patrons pushing through security checkpoints to enter the venue.
— BMoore (@BrennonMoore34) November 5, 2021
Still, the event continued into the night. As news broke of the lawless event, attendees who allegedly encountered the trauma first-hand began to share their own stories on Instagram and Twitter describing a chaotic and grim scene.
VIBE will continue to provide updates as the story develops.
Read some of the accounts from concertgoers below:
— Skip Bayless Burner (@LeBradyBurner) November 6, 2021
I screamed for help so many times, alerted security, asked everyone in the crowd if there was anyone who was CPR certified. Every call went unanswered. I was told, “we already know, and we can’t do anything to stop the show, they’re streaming live” Disgusting. #ASTROWORLDFest
— Cody Hartt (@CodyHartt) November 6, 2021
— clea (@CleaSena) November 6, 2021