Could Travis Scott Have Saved the Lives of 8 People if He Stopped the Concert
At least eight people died on 5/10/, 2021 during an outdoor music festival featuring the main artist, Travis Scott and other guest artists like Drake and 21 Savage. The primary cause of the crowd surge remains unknown because the relevant law enforcement agencies are still investigating the matter. However, this has not stopped the public, media, and emergency response teams from accusing particular characters of being complicit in the tragedy. Travis Scott is accused of negligence because he refused to stop the show to allow the medics to attend to the injured in the crowd. In an interview with NBC’s Today Show, Mr Peña, the Chief of the Houston Fire Department, retorted that the artist is responsible for the security and safety of the fans. Mr. Pena argues that the artist should have halted the performance and switched on the light to allow the smooth evacuation of the victims (BBC News). His statement confirms the assertion that Travi Scott could have saved the lives of eight people if he stopped the concert.
The rapper was on a two-day tour in his hometown Houston to promote his latest album titled “Astroworld” when the incident happened. There are multiple proofs to show that the rapper could have saved the lives of those who died if he halted the show. First, Travis Scott ignored the early indications of a looming tragedy when he disregarded the presence of an ambulance in the crowd. The rapper did not stop the show even after seeing an ambulance in the crowd, which usually symbolizes an emergency situation. There are multiple videos showing the rapper’s reaction after noticing the ambulance. There is a video posted on YouTube showing Travis Scott calming the crowd after noticing the ambulance inside the venue (Patel and Kasakove). The videos showing people pleading for help while standing close to the podium also raises some questions. The rapper should have stopped the show if he heard anyone scream for help.
The words and expressions used by rapper during the event may have triggered aggressive behavior in the audience. Triggers are actions, words or phrases that invoke a shock event or strong emotions in people. The stampede is the shock event in this scenario and whose primary cause is panic. The sudden observation of something desirable by the crowd can also trigger a stampede (Rodrigues Leal Moitinho de Almeida, 2016). For instance, the rapper was caught on video urging the attendees to express their rage. He said to the crowd at one point that “I want to see some rages. Who want to rage?” (Patel and Kasakove). Travis Scott may have incited the mob to act aggressively through this statement. He also told the crowd to the make the ground shake at one point. The audience may have interpreted the phrase “make the ground shake” to mean they start acting aggressively. Travis Scott has performed for many years and thus should have interpreted the triggers early and stopped the show. However, he ignored the triggers and continued performing leading to the demise of at least eight people. Travis Scott could have prevented the deaths if he had complied with the law. The rapper has been arrested twice for encouraging rowdiness in his concerts:
Travis Scott was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after he incited a mob to breach the security checkpoints at the 2015 Lollapalooza concert in Chicago. He was then arrested two years year for encouraging a crowd to rush through the entrance during a concert in Bentonville, Arkansas. The rapper was caught on camera urging the personnel manning the security checkpoints to allow the ticketless fans to enter the venue (Michael). His past actions make him complicit in the death of some of his fans. He breached the law by encouraging the attendees to act disorderly. Travis Scott should have avoided using inciting words because of his past experience with the law. He knew that his actions or words could incite the audience to start acting aggressively. However, he ignored his instincts and continued with the show. He exacerbated the situation by using provocative phrases like ‘make the ground shake.’
Travis Scott did not inform the law enforcement officers about the emergency situation when he saw an ambulance in the crowd. In addition, he did not inform the police about the aggressive behavior of the crowd. The rapper understands the mentality of his fans and therefore should have understood their behavior early. Every crowd has a unique identify which differentiates it from other crowds. The members of a crowd partaking a specific joint action exhibit a “collective mind” in most cases. There are different types of crowds. They include aggressive, escapist, acquisitive, and expressive crowds. An aggressive crowd comprises of individuals inclined to cause chaos and violence to achieve a collective goal (Kingshott 276). The members of a particular crowd partaking a specific joint action share a “collective mind.” The collective mind of Travis Scott’s fans borders aggressive behaviors. Therefore, Travis Scott should have halted the show to stop the crowd from committing destruction or violence. This kind of response could have prevented the deaths from happening.
There are some people who argue that stopping the show could not have prevented the deaths. They claim that the rapper was unaware of the dire situation on the ground because of different factors. First, the loud noise from the crowd and sound system prevented the rapper from hearing properly. He could not hear the cries for help from the crowd because of the noise. The artist was also too busy performing to observe people falling. The assertion that his eyesight was blinded by the stages lights is credible. Those who support this statement highlight that “we shouldn’t have to rely on performers who are clearly more focused on putting on a good show and often partially blinded by lights to monitor crowds” (Steirnberg). Bolia (2015) asserts that the technical instruments like sensors and closed-circuit televisions can help the organizers to observe and assess the behavior of the crowd to avoid overcrowding. The use of high-tech observation and detection technology in the large-scale concerts like “Astroworld” is a common thing. The rapper may have presumed that the organizers were using such technology to monitor the crowd. Therefore, the rapper was justified to continue with the performance because the technical team did not warn him about the looming tragedy.
Moreover, stopping the show could not have prevented the crowd surge and ultimate death of at least eight persons because of overcrowding. There were some ticketless fans who entered the venue unnoticed by the security personnel at the entrance. The concert continued for more than a half an hour after the police first informed the organizers about some people collapsing in the arena. (McDonagh). The added number of fans was one of the main causes of the congestion in the arena. Travis Scott did not have the power to control the number of people entering the venue. Decongesting the venue was the only viable solution at the time because of overcrowding. Stopping the show was not going to prevent the crowd surge because of the high number of attendees. The security team could have prevented the tragedy if they conducted a thorough search of the attendees. Allowing only the ticketholders to enter the venue could have prevented the overcrowding. However, the personnel manning the security checkpoints did not prevent the illegal entry of some fans into the arena and thus causing overcrowding.
In addition, stopping the show is an ineffective strategy because it is difficult to control human behavior. A significant proportion of the people who attend music festivals exhibit the mob mentality. A crowd that embodies the mob mentality comprises of individuals bound to cause chaos irrespective of the situation. The crowd that attended the “Astroworld” concert displayed the mob mentality as shown in the videos posted in the internet. The crowd behavior at the Travis Scott’s concert exhibited an impulsive behavior known as craze. The term ‘craze’ as the sudden rush towards something pleasing or adoring by a group of people (Norris 2). There are several videos in the internet showing some attendees rushing towards the podium to create a mosh pit. The crowd came with the mob mentality of surging forward to create a wave. A significant proportion of the fans who came to the event were there to create a mosh pit. The fans were going to create a mosh pit regardless of the number of times the artist stops the show. A radical change in the mob mentality expressed by some Travis Scott’s fans is the only solution to this tragedy.
In conclusion, Travis Scott could have averted the tragedy by stopping the show. He ignored a series of warning signs that could have helped to avert the incident. For instance, he did not stop the show even though there was an ambulance in the arena. Travis Scott should have halted the show to allow the evacuation of the injured persons by the ambulance. He also incited the crowd to act aggressive when he told them to display rage and make the ground shake. He should have stopped the incitement early to prevent the crowd from going into a craze. On the contrary, stopping the show was not going to prevent the stampede because of overcrowding. Some attendees were going to suffocate even if the artist stopped the show because of the congestion.
BBC News. “Astroworld: Travis Scott Should Have Stopped Concert Earlier, Says Fire Chief”. BBC News, 2021. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-59228831. Accessed Nov 18, 2021.
Bolia, Nomesh B. “Risk management strategies to avoid stampede at Mass gatherings.” 2nd World Conference on Disaster Management: Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India. 2015.
Kingshott, Brian F. “Crowd management: Understanding attitudes and behaviors.” Journal of Applied Security Research 9.3 (2014): 273-289.
McDonagh, Shannon. “How Could The Crowd Surge At Astroworld Have Been Prevented?”. Euronews, 2021, https://www.euronews.com/culture/2021/11/10/astroworld-how-could-the-crowd-surge- have-been-prevented-euronews-talks-to-the-safety-expe. Accessed Nov 18, 2021.
Michael, Blackmon. “Travis Scott Fans Are Divided Over Who To Blame For The Astroworld Tragedy”. Buzzfeednews.Com, 2021, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/michaelblackmon/travis-scott-astroworld- houston-fan-reactions. Accessed Nov 18, 2021.
Norris, R. Johnson. “Panic at “The Who Concert Stampede”: An Empirical Assessment.” SOCIAL PROBLEMS 34.4 (1987).
Patel, Vimal, and Sophie Kasakove. “What To Know About The Houston Astroworld Tragedy”. Nytimes.Com, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/article/astroworld-festival- what-to-know.html. Accessed Nov 18, 2021.
Rodrigues Leal Moitinho de Almeida, Maria. “Human stampedes: A scoping review.” (2016).
Steirnberg, Bonnie. “It’s Not Up To Artists To Prevent Tragedies Like Astroworld”. Insidehook, 2021. https://www.insidehook.com/article/music/travis-scott-astroworld. Accessed Nov 18, 2021.