The Astroworld Tragedy and a History of Negligence

D Nelson Collins

“Nobody expected to die.”

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Photo by Alexander Londoño on Unsplash

The events that took place at this year’s Astroworld Festival were heartbreaking.

I’m from the Houston area, and it’s hard seeing that devastation. There will likely be years of investigations and lawsuits.

The event saw nine people lose their lives after the crowd got out of control. It’s a tragedy beyond words.

Unfortunately, these types of tragedies have occurred at various times throughout history.

The Who — 1979

During The Who’s 1979 US tour, tragedy hit. A show in Cincinnati, Ohio, with 18,000 fans, took a turn for the worst. Fans mistook a soundcheck for the start of the show.

Fans clamored to get in, ensuing a stampede, resulting in eleven deaths and over twenty people being seriously injured.

One officer had this to say:

“There’s nothing you can do,” one officer was overheard telling a parent. “Just wait up and see if they come home. That’s all you can do.”

It was a sad situation as some concertgoers questioned:

“Why did they open one door at a time when there were thousands of people out there?”

Roskilde Festival — 2000

At one of Europe’s largest festivals, Pearl Jam was the headliner. Over 50,000 fans had descended to the festival.

Fans began pushing toward the stage, and a stampede began. Promoters asked Pearl Jam to cut their set, but the damage was done. Fans continued stampeding, leading to nine deaths.

Pearl Jam did its best to listen to the security team during the concert. But, everything happened so fast.

Pearl Jam issued this statement:

“This is so painful . . . . I think we are waiting for someone to wake us and say it was just a horrible nightmare . . . . And there are absolutely no words to express our anguish in regard to the parents and loved ones of these precious lives that were lost. We have not yet been told what actually occurred, but it seemed random and sickeningly quick . . . it doesn’t make sense. When you agree to play a festival of this size and reputation, it is impossible to imagine such a heart-wrenching scenario. Our lives will never be the same, but we know that is nothing compared to the grief of the families and friends of those involved. It is so tragic . . . there are no words.
“Devastated, Pearl Jam.”

Great White — 2003

I remember this tragedy because, at the time, I lived in Connecticut. So, we got detailed coverage of the news.

The band Great White would become synonymous with one of the worst mass casualty events. The small venue could only hold around 250-occupants, but over 400 fans were in attendance.

During the band’s first song, a fire would start from the pyrotechnics on the stage. Unfortunately, the small club was not built for those types of fireworks. It resulted in a fire.

The band escaped with the idea that there would be a minor fire delay. But, the events turned terrible when soundproofing insulation caught fire. The molten insulation began raining down, causing fans to rush for the exit.

The fire would lead to 200 people receiving burns, and over a hundred people died.

The fallout led to the band’s tour manager and the club owners receiving a 10-year prison sentence.

Astroworld Festival — 2021

During the Astroworld Festival, twelve hours before Travis Scott took the stage. Reports began of fans illegally breaching the main gate. It was supposed to be a crowd of 26,000 but exploded to 55,000.

Midway through Travis Scott’s set, reports of fans being trampled started. Yet, the show went on. Nine fans died so far, unfortunately, because there are still people in the hospital.

There will continue to be a lot of questions for all parties involved. Why did HPD allow the event to get so out of hand? Why didn’t Travis Scott or promoters stop the performance?

The truth will come to light, eventually.

It seems musicians stopping mid-show to help is a thing.

  1. This article gives an excellent timeline of the events that took place at the Astroworld Festival.
  2. I found some awesome tidbits about The Who on USA Today.
  3. Rolling Stone has a great story on the Roskilde Festival Pearl Jam story.
  4. I was able to get some additional information on Great White also on Rolling Stone.

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I am a writer and entrepreneur with a passion for writing and sharing ideas. https://dncollins.com

Houston, TX
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