Travis Scott: Who is to Blame for Concert Violence?
December 9, 2021 – Duke Daly
I made my way towards the front, but not too close because I know how crazy it gets up there from experience. I found my place and waited for the show to begin. Just a week before the Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas, where 10 people were killed, I attended a Travis Scott concert at Rolling Loud New York. The pre–show music blared, the sweat of other bodies surrounded me as the cumulative scent of the drugs and drinks filled the airspace. I’m with what is left of my group, as it is impossible not to lose your group members if the group exceeds fourmembers. One of my friends told me that they can’t breathe, but I explained that it is pretty normal to feel like that in the crowd at a Travis Scott show.
The pre–show music gets turned down and the crowd begins to cheer; there is a booming hawk scream played and the performer comes out. At this point, the crowd begins to rush to get closer and like my friend said, I, too, couldn’t really breathe. I had seen Travis Scott before, but I hadn’t been this uncomfortable before.
Travis Scott is no stranger to news headlines, but in the past few weeks, he seems stuck in the headlines as more and more news comes out from the tragedy that was Day 2 of Astroworld. This event has everyone talking, and I mean everyone. My parents are asking me who this is and why he allowed people to die. My brother says he refuses to listen to Scott ever again, because he is “the devil.” Neither of these people listen to Travis Scott or know anything about him but feel more than ready to share their opinions on him.
In case somehow you haven’t heard, the events I am describing happened on November 5th at NRG Park in Houston when the crowd surged toward the stage around 9:30pm. It’s easy to hear this and immediately jump down Scott’s throat. People died at his festival; he needs to be held responsible. The question I want to pose though is, how responsible is he?
Something that seems very strange to me is that people are acting like an event like this has not happened before. No one deserves to die at a music performance and that should not be something that ever happens, but sometimes it does happen. This isn’t the first time, and it is unlikely that this will be the last. This is likely to the dismay of people who think that they are making a difference by dragging Scott online. It is to my own dismay, too, but I think that the way we are tackling this event is completely wrong. Travis Scott did organize this event, and certainly deserves some accountability. However, Live Nation, who was the main organizer of this event deserves way more blame. As do the Houston Police department who were clearly ill equipped and understaffed for this event. Simply, there should have been more security and more organization.
The thing is, neither of these needs are really Scott’s responsibility. Scott is there to put on a performance, get the crowd lively, and make sure they get their money’s worth. He isn’t a public speaker; he’s a performer. His name is attached to this event so blame will find its way to him. I personally just don’t feel like this falls on the artist. Andrew R. Chow from Time magazine mentions, “Pearl Jam wasn’t sued in 2000 when nine people were trampled to death at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark; neither were the Who when 11 people died”. I’m sure both bands were heavily targeted and blamed for these events just like Scott. The thing is they didn’t get any lawsuits. On the contrary, Travis has amassed many lawsuits and they just keep coming in. However, I don’t think the number of suits has anything to do with accountability. I think this is very much a “dog pile” mentality where everyone is trying to jump on Scott and get a piece of the pie.
Travis Scott issued out an apology video to express his condolences regarding the event. He even refunded every ticket that was bought for Astroworld, donated to the families of those affected and is working with the families in getting proper therapy/ treatment. Even with this, many chalk up all of this as disingenuous. The overall thoughts I have been seeing about this are that Scott doesn’t actually care at all and is just trying to cover himself. I guess I could understand that from a marketing perspective, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he is taking actions in the right direction either way. Scott explains in his apology video that he was unaware of the events happening around him, but people do not believe him.
As someone who has been to these types of festivals, I can see how he would not understand the severity of the situation. I have seen many clips of people yelling for help while Scott continues to perform, but there are a couple of things that need to be understood about situations such as these. First of all, he cannot hear anyone but himself because he has earplugs in and the crowd noise kind of just blends into one noise. Secondly, when my friends scream my name from just a few people over in these concert crowds, I cannot hear them at all. I don’t think Scott can hear someone that is over 100 feet away, or even at a close distance.
Personally, I think this is yet another example of people wanting to see the fall of another person and also an example of people these days completely missing the larger point of an issue. Travis Scott was absolute marketing gold before this and even had his own McDonald’s meal. Now, everyone is ready to make their own video talking about how much of a monster he is. I see a lot of these videos on Tik Tok, and people are talking about how they will never listen to Travis Scott again and how he is a murderer. To me, these videos do not seem genuine. It more seems like people whowant to hop on something that is trending pretty heavily right now. It is pretty sickening to think people would do that, but the sad thing is people have done things like this before.
People also want to push the narrative that Scott is a satanist and tried to sacrifice people doing this concert. One reporter writes, “Others kept calling Scott’s set-design a “portal to hell” and dredging up supposed Illuminati references in his lyrics”. This is just ridiculous to me and shows how disconnected some people are from this situation. People don’t like that Scott has the festival decorated with portals, fires, and phrases like “meet me on the other side”. Any person who is remotely familiar with Scott can understand why these decorations are there. The festival is dedicated to the old Astroworld amusement park in Houston. The park was space-themed, and, as a tribute, so is Scott’s festival. Travis Scott also has many times been nicknamed “La Flame.” It is not surprising that someone named that would have fire themes at his festival.
I think the reasons these accusations are gaining any traction is an amalgamation of things. I think some radical Christians with no insight into the event are ready to tear down Scott because what they assume is a whiff of evil. I also think that people want to think some evil forces were at work rather than look at the fact that a group of people killed other people in the crowd. It is a very difficult thing to come to terms with, but on that day real people killed other humans. No one made them do it, and they didn’t have to do it.
What we really need to focus on here is that this could have been avoided by the people within the festival. If someone falls down or needs help in a crowd, help them. When I saw Scott just a week before at Rolling Loud, things got very hectic and crazy. People were falling, passing out, and struggling to breathe. I witnessed a girl pass out right in front of me. As I went to help her up, I noticed no one else helping me and yelled for more help. Thinking about them when I heard about this event gave me some insight into something. We as human beings are severely lacking empathy for one another. The fact that we can walk over another person or trample them like it’s nothing is disturbing. I know people want to distance the crowd from any blame, by using words like “crowd surge” and “over capacity”. I understand that those things are contributors, but this event still involves people killing people. I feel like the word “crowd” itself is being used as a shield to protect the people within the crowd. No, it would be too extreme to call the people in the crowd murderers; they aren’t murderers, but they are partially responsible.
I know that is very controversial to say, but if we as a group of people can cause an evil act like this to happen, we as a group can cause a good act to happen. Clear a path for one another, protect a person from getting stopped on, give a person water if they need it. These simple acts could have helped the lives lost. The world is a harsh place and tragedy should not be occurring at a place of entertainment. Care for one another, show some empathy and if the person next to you is falling, pick them up.
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