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Astroworld mishap raises safety concerns for live venues

By Aaron Dalton and Imran Shaikh Dec. 8, 2021

Jude Tantawy Art

“Preventable.” That is how concert safety consultant Paul Wertheimer described the tragedy at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas. The Nov. 5 Live Nation Astroworld music festival saw ten deaths—including a 9-year-old boy—from crowd surges, reviving analysis of crowd safety measures as more people are participating in large spectator events following the rollback of some COVID-19 restrictions.

“As a role model and the highlight of the show, it was Travis Scott’s obligation to stop the performance.”

As soon as the festival gates opened, rushing crowds pushed down barricades and overwhelmed security guards, the Associated Press reports. The event, which had sold out all 100,000 tickets within an hour, quickly grew to a dense crowd of 50,000 fans. As Scott took the stage, fans pushed forward towards the mosh pits, compressing others who were not able to escape due to the barricades that surrounded the venue. Despite police reports of crush injuries taking place in the crowds, Scott continued performing. Not long after, approximately 300 people were treated for injuries, with 13 hospitalized.

“As a role model and the highlight of the show, it was Travis Scott’s obligation to stop the performance. Other artists, such as Linkin Park and Slipknot, are known for stopping shows when someone falls in the mosh pit. Travis Scott failed his duty to look after his fans and his apathy means that he should be held accountable,” Junior Reagan Liu said.

The investigation into the incident found that festival organizers failed to prioritize crowd safety procedures. Though Live Nation contracted the concert promotion company ScoreMore Shows to compile a security plan that was presented to Houston police before the festival took place, experts have noted some key omissions. Wertheimer told the Los Angeles Times that there was no mention of a crowd management plan, nor how the audience at the front of the stage would be controlled. Typically, moshing, crowd surfing or stage diving are addressed in the safety plan in order to prevent crowd surge or panic events.

ABC News reports that there were nine recorded mosh-related deaths between 1994 and 2006 alone.

However, occurrences like this are not rare. On Nov. 2, barely a week before the Astroworld incident, two people died at an ABBA tribute concert: an elderly man fell seven floors onto two others, passing away and fatally injuring one of the others while sending the survivor to the hospital. In 2000, nine concertgoers were trampled to death in a mosh pit during Pearl Jam’s performance at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, among many more cases—ABC News reports that there were nine recorded mosh-related deaths between 1994 and 2006 alone.

Wertheimer, who has examined both the Pearl Jam and Astroworld tragedies, found a common trait: festival seating. The festival seating system abandons physical seats altogether for a shoulder-to-shoulder experience. When implemented at Astroworld, fans had a mere two square feet of space each—paired with moshing, a more violent form of dance associated with rock music, it created a packed environment. Ultimately, Wertheimer concludes that the promoter is at fault for crowd safety shortcomings.

“Future incidents could be prevented if organizers pay more attention to the number of people and amount of space available,” Sophomore Kavya Desai said.

Another group that may bear the responsibility for this incident is the overall security. While security guards were on the premises, many Astroworld security firms actually encouraged their employees to avoid getting involved to prevent injury and informed them that they should contact their supervisor and let them handle the issue.

[The] catastrophe presents a lesson for concerts organizers and participants going forward.

However, crowd control measures have improved over time. For instance, the implementation of iron barriers at Goldenvoice’s Coachella festival split the crowd into a grid, creating separations to prevent the crowd from getting out of control. However, while they can be effective under the right circumstances, overcrowding the festival site will inevitably lead to disaster.

It is apparent that these accidents are due to the shortcomings of multiple parties. Had officials implemented other strategies, Astroworld may have ended differently. Nevertheless, the catastrophe presents a lesson for concerts organizers and participants going forward.


About the Contributors

Aaron Dalton

Staff Writer

Aaron is a freshman at Leland high school. He is a staff writer for the Charger Account. In his free time, He likes to play basketball with his friends, eat Chick-Fil-A, and travel.

Imran Shaikh

Staff Writer

Imran Shaikh is a sophomore at Leland High School and a staff writer for The Charger Account. When he has free time he likes to watch anime, hang out with his friends, and catch up on some much-needed sleep.

Jude Tantawy


Jude Tantawy is a sophomore at Leland High School. She is an artist for The Charger Account. During her free time she loves to draw, paint, do photography, cook, bake, and listen to music.

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