Chaos at Astrofest Causes Deaths, Hundreds of Injuries


photo courtesy of AP Images

Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston.

Tyler Chrenka, Editor-in-Chief

At least eight were killed and hundreds were injured after a crowd surge at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival, which took place at the NRG Park in Houston, Texas on Nov. 5.

The victims include two minors, aged 14 and 16 years old, and six others who are all under 27 years old, according to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Over 300 were treated at the concert venue, and 25 had to be transported to nearby hospitals. Five of these patients remained in critical conditions on Nov. 8, including a 10-year-old. 

Investigations into the cause of this tragedy are ongoing, but many experts are blaming concert organizers, saying there was poor crowd management. 

“[People in the crowd] were put in a situation beyond their control by the organizers and by the people who approved that event,” said Paul Wertheimer, a crowd safety consultant. “People want to be in front of the stage where the artists are, so they tend to move forward. And if you don’t manage the crowd, people are going to be crushed.”

Concertgoers said that the outdoor venue was already crowded in the hours leading up to the performance, but the surge began at around 9 p.m. right after Scott started performing. 

 “All of what is to be 50,000 people ran to the front, compressing everyone together with the little air available,” a concert attendee told a CNN reporter. “[There were] mosh pits in every single direction.”

In addition to people being crushed, people reported being pricked with syringes that contained drugs like heroin and ketamine. 

Senior Kaiden Hollerbach, who attends Collinsville High School, was at the festival and believes some people near him could have been injected with said drugs. 

“It felt like a normal Travis concert. His fans like to rage, so I loved the energy,” said Hollerbach. “[But then] I saw a lot of bodies drop and get carried away, and I saw people walking back with pale faces and puffed cheeks like they had just seized. 

“There was no explanation at the time…, but I heard from the Houston PD themselves that people were being injected. That was the moment I got really scared. In the aftermath, I am just lucky that my friend and I are alive, but I am struggling with everything that happened repeating in my head.” 

Scott has become the subject of criticism since the event, with many asking why he kept performing while people in his crowd were suffering. He performed for nearly 40 minutes after the first casualty, but he ultimately ended the concert 30 minutes early after seeing ambulances in the crowd, according to the New York Times. 

Hollerbach does not think Scott realized the seriousness of what was happening until after the show.

“Travis did not incite the riots, and he spoke out against it after the fact… he just told his fans to rage and be safe,” Hollerbach said. “Travis was not aware of what was occurring… the camera men knew but they told nobody else.” 

Others, like senior Bella Pace, think Scott knew what was happening in the crowd and continued the show. 

“From the videos that I have seen, it looks like Travis saw unconscious bodies being dragged out of the crowd,” Pace said. “I think he should have ended the show as soon as he saw something was not right, and he should definitely be blamed for the deaths and injuries that occurred.” 

There are still many unknowns about the specific factors that caused the fatalities and whether Scott knew what was happening. These will likely be discovered as investigations continue over the next few weeks.