The world is reeling after a reported crowd surge at a Travis Scott concert this weekend ended with dozens hospitalized and eight people dead.
Social media has been flooded with horrifying videos and testimonials of attendees of Astroworld, Scott’s music festival that was held in Houston this past weekend. Videos show unconscious people being carried out of the crowd, while others show concert-goers trying desperately to get the show halted as they saw people dying around them.
A reported 50,000 people were in attendance, and the incident began soon after Travis Scott took the stage at 9 PM.
One attendee posted her experience on Instagram, explaining how as the crowd began to crush her, she climbed onto a platform with a cameraman, trying to get his attention. “I climbed the ladder and pointed to the hole, telling him people were dying. He told me to get off the platform and continued filming.”
The concert didn’t even stop when it appeared that Scott could see one victim being carried unconscious out of the crowd, or when an ambulance tried to drive into the crowd to rescue someone. Instead, there are videos of fans climbing on top of the ambulance to dance on top of it.
“People were literally dying in front of them and they continued performing and just ignoring the fact that people were screaming for help screaming for their lives and ambulances were pulling into the crowd ???????” lamented one shocked Twitter user.
Journalist Joey Guerra, who has covered Houston's music scene for about a decade and was at the concert, told CNN that Scott did pause the show a few times to call for help for attendees in distress. "He did stop the show, I want to say, three or four times when he noticed people in distress." Guerra said Scott played for about 75 minutes before the show was ultimately stopped.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Scott carried on with the show for 37 minutes after authorities pronounced the concert a “mass casualty” incident.
Videos Show Unconscious Bodies on the Ground
Although reports claim the casualties were a result of a crowd surge that crushed concert-goers at the front of the crowd, several videos seem to show attendees collapsing to the ground but with no apparent crowd surge around them.
This compilation of videos from attendees from TMZ shows the crowd before and during the supposed surge. The crowd is singing loudly, jumping to the music while victims are carried out by first responders.
Another victim was a security officer who was injected with drugs by an unknown assailant. Houston police chief Troy Finner said the security officer was then given Narcan.
At a news conference on Saturday, Finner said, “We do have a report of a security officer, according to the medical staff, that was out and treated him last night, that he was reaching over to restrain or grab a citizen and he felt a prick in his neck.”
There have been rumors that assailants were injecting random concert attendees with needles, perhaps causing the crowd surge that ended in eight deaths. Authorities have confirmed cases of needle spiking – a horrifying version of drink spiking where the victim is injected with an unknown drug – at the concert. Some have speculated that these attacks caused the surge but no true cause has been identified yet.
People Are Accusing the Show of Incorporating Satanic Imagery
Social media has gone wild with theories about the show, but the creepiest theories center around the concert’s supposed overt Satanic imagery. The entrance of Astroworld, for example, was a huge Travis Scott head with a gaping mouth through which attendees entered. People have pointed out its resemblance to the gaping mouth of Hell in the Hieronymus Bosch painting, Christ in Limbo.
The stage, set up as a mountain of fire, caused suspicion amongst many Twitter users. “A fiery, demon looking creature is projected atop the stage. Eyeball emerges in center of stage, scans crowd. 8 flames emerge from the stage. 8 people died. WTF??” said one user.
Other imagery from the show included a giant hand that appeared to reach down over the crowd, a mountain of eyes, and a tunnel to text reading “See You On the Other Side.”
Another picture compares the stage to a “portal to hell” just before panic broke out.
The album artwork itself was called out as demonic and diabolical. The album cover seems to show a demon child, with the text “When the end arrives it’s really the beginning.”
An Instagram post from Scott himself showed a picture of the Houston Chronicle, and the back cover calls to the reader: “Will you be at the mountain?”
The dark imagery, paired with Scott’s violent lyrics and history of encouraging dangerous behavior at his concerts, makes for a very bad PR situation.
This Isn’t the First Travis Scott Performance That Ended in Tragedy
Travis Scott has a history of his concerts involving injuries and the police. In 2015, Scott was arrested minutes into his Lollapalooza performance after he told fans to climb past the security barricades. He pled guilty to the charge of reckless conduct.
In April 2017 at New York’s Terminal 5 venue, he encouraged fans to jump from the balcony, assuring them the crowd below would catch them. Several people did jump, and some were pushed over the edge by the surging crowd. One fan, Kyle Green, who claims he was pushed, was partially paralyzed as a result, and sued Travis Scott.
Following his May 2017 concert in Arkansas, Scott faced “three misdemeanor charges of inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, and endangering the welfare of a minor after he invited fans to overpower security and rush the stage.”
Green’s lawyer commented on the Astroworld tragedy, saying, “Make no mistake about it, his desire for chaos caused this horrific tragedy.”
Lawsuits are Rolling In
Concert-goer Manuel Souza was injured during the Astroworld festival. He is suing Travis Scott, the entertainment company Live Nation, and the concert promoter Scoremore, as well as others involved in organizing and promoting the November 2021 event.
According to his lawsuit, Souza “suffered serious bodily injuries when the uncontrolled crowd at the concert knocked him to the ground and trampled him.”
Souza claims the concert organizers “failed to properly plan and conduct the concert in a safe manner. Instead, they consciously ignored the extreme risks of harm to concertgoers, and, in some cases actively encouraged and fomented dangerous behaviors."
Souza is suing for $1 million dollars. His lawsuit is unlikely to be the only one.
Victims Included High Schoolers
The following is a list of victims whose identities have been released by authorities:
John Hilgert, 14. He was a ninth-grade student at Memorial High School in Northwest Houston.
Rodolfo Angel Peña, 23. A psychology student from Laredo, Texas, he was an aspiring model and hoped one day to become a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Brianna Rodriguez, 16. Briana was a junior at Heights High School in Houston. A GoFundMe post in Rodriguez's honor explained, "Dancing was her passion. Now she’s dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates."
Danish Baig, 27. Danish died trying to save his fiancée from the crushing crowd, according to his brother.
Franco Patino, 21. He was a senior at the University of Dayton in Ohio, majoring in mechanical engineering technology.
Axel Acosta, 21. He had traveled alone from Washington state to see the concert, according to his father. He was studying computer science at Western Washington University.
In total, 25 people were transported to the hospital and 13 are still hospitalized. One victim, who is in critical condition, is 10 years old. At least 11 people suffered a cardiac arrest, according to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, although the causes of death for the victims are still under review.