Ten people have died and hundreds were injured at a Travis Scott concert in Houston on Nov. 5 after a large crowd stormed the stage as the rapper performed his final set of the night.
About 50,000 people attended the show, also known as Astroworld, and many concertgoers described a chaotic scene where people collapsed, “fought for air,” and “struggled for life,” as reported by the New York Times. Those who died were between the ages of 14 to 27, according to city officials. By Wednesday, Nov. 10, 46 lawsuits had been filed in connection with the deadly event, according to Billboard.
Authorities are still investigating the tragedy and what caused concertgoers to rush the stage. Scott, the Houston rapper and producer, said in a statement Saturday that he was “absolutely devastated.”
Here’s what we know so far about the concert officials are calling a “mass casualty event” and is now the focus of a criminal investigation.
What is Astroworld?
Astroworld is a Houston music festival founded by Scott and hosted on the former grounds of Six Flags Astroworld, according to the event website.
The festival was first launched in 2018 — the same year Scott released a studio album of the same name — and featured headliners such as Post Malone and Lil Wayne in addition to Scott. In 2019, the festival came with an expanded lineup and more genres, including Migos, Pharrell Williams, and Megan thee Stallion. The 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, and instead Scott collaborated with Epic Games to provide a virtual Astroworld experience in the video game Fortnite.
The 2021 event was supposed to take place on Nov. 5 and 6 — the first time the festival was set to span two days instead of one — and concert promoter Live Nation partnered with Scott to host the sold-out event, according to the website. Following Friday night’s tragedy, the second day was canceled.
What happened as Scott took the stage Friday night?
Scott began his set at around 9 p.m. when “everybody was just in the back, trying to rush to the front,” a 17-year-old concertgoer told the New York Times.
It is still unclear what, if anything, triggered the chaos.
“The crowd for whatever reason began to push and surge towards the front of the stage, which caused the people in the front to be compressed — they were unable to escape that situation,” Houston fire chief Sam Peña told CNN.
By 9:30 p.m., there was an ambulance in the crowd, according to the Times, and city officials started calling the situation a “mass casualty event.”
The crowd surge sent at least 25 people to the hospital, two of whom remain hospitalized as of Thursday afternoon, according to officials. A 9-year-old boy was among those who were severely injured. He was in a medically induced coma for days before he died on Sunday.
In a video from Friday’s Astroworld performance that has since been taken down, Scott can be heard telling the crowd: “I want to see some rages. Who want to rage?” according to the New York Times. Moments later, he said: “There’s an ambulance in the crowd, whoa, whoa, whoa,” in an apparent attempt to calm the chaos. The music stopped for several seconds, according to the Times, and then Scott continued performing. “If everybody good, put a middle finger up in the sky,” he reportedly said.
Live Nation stopped the concert at around 10:10 p.m., about 30 minutes earlier than planned, according to multiple reports.
Houston police chief Troy Finner said officials worried that ending the concert too quickly would make the situation worse: “You cannot just close when you got 50,000 and over 50,000 individuals,” he said, according to the New York Times. “We have to worry about rioting, riots, when you have a group that’s that young.”
What is a crowd surge?
A crowd surge, or crowd crunch, is when storms of people “compete against each other for the best location” in standing-room environments at live entertainment events, the founder of the Crowd Management Strategies consulting firm told CNN. He called it “the most dangerous and deadly crowd configuration,” and deadly surges have happened before.
At a Who concert in 1979, eleven people were killed in a crowd surge at a show in Cincinnati. At a music festival in Denmark in 2000, nine people died of suffocation during a Pearl Jam set. In 1989, 96 people were crushed and trampled to death at a soccer game at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England.
Crowd surges are not uncommon at Scott’s shows. At Astroworld in 2019, three people were hospitalized with “minor leg injuries from trampling,” after hundreds of people rushed metal barricades, according to Rolling Stone. The publication also reported that in 2015, Chicago police arrested Scott after he allegedly urged Lollapalooza fans to climb over security banners and storm the stage.
How has Scott responded?
In a statement posted on Twitter Saturday, Scott said he was “absolutely devastated by what took place ... My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at the Astroworld Festival.”
Scott continued that authorities have his “total support,” as they look into what happened. “Thank you to Houston PD, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their immediate response and support.”
Scott also posted a video story to his Instagram account: “I’m honestly just devastated, and I could never imagine anything like this just happening. I’m going to do everything I can to keep you guys updated and just keep you guys informed of what’s going on. Love you all.”
Scott’s representatives released a statement Monday that Scott would cover all funeral costs for the nine victims. Scott is also partnering with BetterHelp to provide free mental health services to those affected by the tragedy.
Live Nation pledged its full support into the investigation, and said it would “provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities.”
Who are the victims?
The 10 victims ranged from ages 9 to 27 with one age unknown, according to the New York Times.
Those who died, according to the Times, include Franco Patiño, 21, a senior at the University of Dayton in Ohio; John Hilgert, 14, a freshman at Memorial High School near Houston; Brianna Rodriguez, 16, a student at Heights High School in Houston; Rudy Peña, 23, of Laredo, Texas; Danish Baig, whose brother said in a Facebook post that Baig was trying to save a sister-in-law from being trampled; Jacob E. Jurinek, 20, a junior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale; Axel Acosta, 21, a junior at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash.; and Madison Dubiski, 23, who worked at a Houston-based advertising agency. A ninth victim, Bharti Shahani, died Wednesday, according to officials. She was a 22-year-old college senior at Texas A&M University. Nine-year-old Ezra Blount of Dallas died Sunday, according attorney Ben Crump.