Before Woodstock & Coachella, the earliest recorded festivals date back to ancient Greece. The Greeks honored the gods by holding competitions in drama, poetry, music and athletics. Fast forward to the present, and festivals have survived the test of time to develop into mainstream companies. Since Woodstock in 1969, festival organizers have been trying to recapture the magic and atmosphere.
In trying to recycle these things, it is not uncommon for festivals to go bad. Rain, floods, intense heat and poor planning can result in disastrous results. Occasionally, however, these can end in death. This was the case for rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival when it ended with the deaths of eight people.
Scott is an American rapper, singer and record producer. His artist name is the namesake of a favorite uncle combined with the first name of one of his sources of inspiration, Kid Cudi (whose real name is Scott Mescudi). Scott’s debut studio album, Rodeo (2015), was led by the hit single “Antidote”.
His second album, Birds in the trap sing McKnight (2016), became his first number one album on the Billboard 200. The following year, Scott released a collaborative album with Quavo titled Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho under the group name Huncho Jack.
In 2018, his third studio album, Astroverden, was released to critical acclaim and produced his first Billboard Hot 100 number one single, “Sicko Mode” (with Drake). In late 2019, Scott’s record label Cactus Jack Records released the compilation album JackBoys, the first track an album on Billboard 200 of the 2020s.
After releasing his single “Franchise” (featuring Young Thug and MIA) in September 2020, Scott became the first artist on the Hot 100 to have his three-song debut at number one in less than a year. He has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards and won a Billboard Music Award and a Latin Grammy Award.
After the release of Astroverden, announced the Scott Astroworld Festival, an annual festive concert that would take place across the street from Six Flags AstroWorld. The 2018 Astroworld Festival featured Post Malone, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Rae Sremmurd, Gunna, Houston All-Stars, Sheck Wes, Metro Boomin, Trippie Redd, Smokepurpp, Virgil Abloh and Tommy Genesis.
The 2019 festival included performances from Gucci Mane, Migos, Rosalia, Tay Keith, Pop Smoke, Young Thug, Young Dolph, Key Glock, Pharrell Williams, Sheck Wes, Marilyn Manson, DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, Don Toliver, Playboi Carti and Houston All-Stars. The 2020 festival was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
At least eight people were killed and dozens more were injured at the Astroworld Festival in 2021 on Friday night after a large crowd began pushing towards the front of the stage, the city’s fire chief said at a news conference.
During a performance by Scott “it caused some panic and it started to cause some damage,” said Houston fire chief Samuel Peña. The concert was part of a two-day event that began Friday. About 50,000 people were there Friday night, according to the fire department.
“It was like hell,” said Nick Johnson, 17, who was still wearing his concert bracelet when he spoke Saturday morning. “Everyone was just in the back, trying to hurry in front.” Twenty-three people were taken to nearby hospitals by emergency personnel, Chief Peña said, adding that of those patients, eleven were in cardiac arrest. Over 300 people were treated at a “field hospital” on the spot, he said.
Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement Saturday: “What happened at the Astroworld festival last night was tragic, and our hearts are with those who lost their lives and those who were wounded in the fearsome crowd.”
As music festivals continue to be a cultural phenomenon that grows annually into a profitable industry, these disasters are not uncommon and safety is fast becoming a growing concern. From medicine and heatstroke to the many cases of fans being trampled down, safety is an aspect that needs to be addressed in the future. What are your thoughts on festivals?