John Cantwell | staff writer
Nov. 11, 2021
Since I was an angst-ridden 13 year old, I have been to my fair share of hardcore, punk and metal shows that have been considered to be “violent” or “unsafe,” due to the chaotic mosh pits and seemingly anarchic environment. I am now 22, so I consider myself to be seasoned in this realm of consensual rage and adrenaline.
In recent years, an abundance of this pent-up energy has transitioned its way into rap and hip-hop culture, with mainstream artists like Playboi Carti and Travis Scott leading the forefront for die-hard fans to get involved in what many call a “rager” environment.
At every punk show I have attended where there has been a mosh pit, although there is physical contact that leaves some in bruises, if someone falls over, the rule is to always pick that person up. More importantly, we don’t continue until the crowd and artist know for certain that the individual is safe.
Safety was evidently not a priority of Astrofest organizers on Saturday Nov. 6, as eight individuals have been confirmed dead and over 300 fans were injured in the aftermath of a packed, rage-filled show.
After seeing the news of the festival on Saturday, I am overcome with feelings of sadness, confusion and, most prominently, disgust by how the festival was handled.
Was it Scott who is to blame? Is it the festival promoters? Is it the fans?
I believe it was an accumulation of all these factors that turned what should have been a day of euphoric fun into a living hell for attendees.
From the very beginning of the festival, fans were stampeding the entrances and trampling over each other in order to get to the front, while also destroying the metal detectors — as seen by cell phone videos of the event.
The charging of the entrances is something that isn’t new unfortunately, and a very similar occurrence happened at a Playboi Carti concert in Houston two weeks prior on Oct. 23; However as soon as the safety of the crowd was questioned, the show was immediately canceled.
This is what should’ve happened, or it should have at least had some form of postponement.
As the venue became more populated, more problems arose; from the overpopulation of the area, to hundreds of fans being critically injured or passing out, to the incompetence of the Live Nation staff — as well as under-trained medical personnel — it is conspicuously apparent that the organization deserves a great deal of blame and guilt with how much of a negligent and atrociously planned event Astroworld was.
Now, does Scott actually deserve the blame he has received from media outlets and fans alike?
The short answer is yes.
Speaking from my own experiences of attending concerts for more than a decade at this point, I have seen my fair share of “rage” filled shows, as well as stood witness to intense injuries that have either occurred from moshing, or just passing out from heat exhaustion.
But the difference is that nearly every time I have witnessed these events happening, the artist has always halted the show.
Scott witnessed his distressed fans being taken out by security, and was screamed at multiple times by fans to stop the show, but instead he still performed like nothing was happening within the crowd.
Although he acknowledged that some fans were being taken out by paramedics, it wasn’t enough to prevent more harm. Unfortunately, Scott is no stranger to putting his fans at risk, whether it’s for telling other fans to jump a member of the crowd who stole his shoe —which he actually stopped his show for — or commanding his crowd to rush past barricades, putting a multitude of teenagers and venue staff and security at physical risk.
Scott has been charged in the past for his chaotic actions at concerts. In 2017 he pleaded guilty for disorderly conduct due to him encouraging fans to rush the stage, leaving multiple concertgoers and staff severely injured. Scott also encouraged one of his fans that was hanging from a balcony to jump, which left the fan, Kyle Green, paralyzed.
For someone who has adopted a punk aesthetic, the core of the genre is to be one with another; There is a specific form of etiquette and understanding that goes along with the scene, and although he adopted the energy, maybe he and his fans should become aware of the mutual respect.
The negligence and apathy towards human life by Live Nation, Scott and any of the other organizers will forever be a somber reminder of what could have been a preventable disaster.