What led to the Astroworld Festival tragedy?

Who’s at fault for the Astroworld Festival tragedy?

Matthew Menoni, Staff Reporter

The Astroworld Festival was a tragedy in many ways, however, in order to really understand what happened, we need to take a chronological look at the events in question. It was 8:30 p.m. on November 5th, 2021, and roughly 50,000 people anxiously waited for famed rapper and cultural icon Jacques Webster, more commonly known as Travis Scott, to take the stage at 8:45 p.m. with a timer counting down the minutes until he went onstage. 

The events that followed that timer hitting zero are irreversible, but how did this all happen? To get a better understanding of the Astroworld Tragedy, as many have named it, we need to look at the number of attendees and layouts of the first 2 years of the festival. 

The most shocking part is that the layout wasn’t very different from the previous two festivals. There aren’t exact numbers related to attendees for the 2018 festival, however, there were significantly less than 50,000 people attending. With the 2019 festival being announced, promoters and Scott alike had plans to make the festival even bigger, while maintaining the same location, NRG Park, right across the highway from the former Six Flags Astroworld location. There was more variety amongst the lineup, more acts, and more well-known acts. In 2019 they would sell roughly 50,000 tickets and sell out the venue. There were more injuries as expected with larger crowds, and there was more movement in the massive crowds as people pushed forward to the front of the stage, but the surge eventually died down and the 2019 festival was again a major success. 

So what made the 2021 installment of the festival go so bad so quickly? There are a few possible answers to this question. 

The first was that the VIP section of the festival was slightly bigger than in years before, yet it wasn’t completely filled with people like in previous years.   

As of December 2021, there have been 10 confirmed deaths, however, some people still ended the night not knowing the severity of the night’s events. In a crowd of 50,000 people what’s going on in one section of the crowd can be completely different than what’s happening in a different area. With the majority of the deaths occurring in the same area, part of the issue was the layout of the “seating” area.


The right side of the crowd area is compacted between the VIP barricade and the PA Tent, where the main crowd surge occurred and where most people were injured and killed. (Photo by: © REUTERS / Nathan Frandino, Diagram by Matt Menoni)


Senior Andrea Torres, who attended the Astroworld Festival, explained that she “had a good time and tried [her] best to stay away from the craziness,” Torres mentioned. Torres said that it wasn’t as hectic as the media made the show out to be, but at the same time said that, “maybe depending on where you [were] in the crowd it could have been worse.” Torres ultimately left the festival having had a good time, walking past many ambulances and signs that read “Astroworld Cancelled”.

Signs Posted in Houston Stating “Astroworld Cancelled”. (Photo by GlobalNews.ca)

Injury at festivals isn’t given much press, but it’s a normal occurrence at festivals, from dehydration and heat stroke to slipping and falling in the mud. Death isn’t unheard of at shows either. There were deaths at every Woodstock Festival that was held, with Woodstock ‘99 having similar incidents to Astroworld that occurred throughout the weekend until it ended in flames, angry crowds starting riots and chaos. Completely bringing Woodstock to an end.

As to be expected, she was disappointed that the second day of the festival was canceled. Furthermore, Torres said that overall the crowd was a compressed setting, similar to Lollapalooza. She knew what she was getting into, but with fence jumpers, and people breaking into the festival, it was too packed in the end. Taking all this into consideration the blame can’t fully be brought onto Scott, as he was just a performer at a show being put on by a company called Live Nation, as confirmed by Scott in his December 9 interview with talk show host Charlamagne Tha God. While many may have thought that the festival was his, the reality is he just had creative control of the festival and is the frontman, whereas its operations and external security responsibilities were the responsibility of Live Nation. Live Nation was requested to stop the show by the Houston Police Department, and thus it supposedly did 15 minutes early. At 10:14 p.m., Scott, in his conversation with Charlemagne, claimed to have been told to walk off the stage and end the show after famed rapper Aubrey Graham, more commonly known just as ‘Drake,’ came on stage. The concert eventually ended shortly afterward, and with that, the concert scene and festival scene was changed forever.