Astroworld Concert Live Updates: Crowd Surge Leaves 8 Dead at Travis Scott Show
At least eight people were killed and dozens more were injured at a music festival in Houston on Friday night after a large crowd began pushing toward the front of the stage, the city’s fire chief said at a news conference.
The crowd surge, during a concert by the rapper Travis Scott, “caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” said the fire chief, Samuel Peña. The concert was part of the Astroworld music festival, a two-day event that began on Friday. About 50,000 people were there on Friday night, according to the fire department.
“It was like hell,” said Nick Johnson, 17, who still had his concert bracelet on as he spoke Saturday morning. “Everybody was just in the back, trying to rush to the front.”
In a statement posted on Instagram, organizers said that they were “supporting local officials however we can” and that the second day of the festival had been canceled. “Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight — especially those we lost and their loved ones,” the statement read.
Twenty-three people were taken to nearby hospitals by emergency responders, Chief Peña said, adding that of those patients, 11 were in cardiac arrest. Over 300 people were treated at a “field hospital” at the site, he said.
The exact causes of death will be determined by the medical examiner, who is investigating the incident, Chief Peña said.
Chief Troy Finner of the Houston Police Department said that many details about the disaster were still unclear, including what had caused the crowd to surge forward.
“I’m sending investigators to the hospitals because we just don’t know,” Chief Finner said. “We’re going to do an investigation and find out, because it’s not fair to producers, to anybody else involved, until we determine what happened, what caused the surge.”
“It happened all at once,” Larry Satterwhite, the executive assistant chief of the Houston police, said at the news conference. He said that at one point, several people in the crowd fell to the ground and began experiencing what he called a medical episode.
One concert goer, Neema Djavadzadeh, described Friday’s event as “really hectic from the beginning.”
“I got there around 3 and saw people already struggling to stand straight,” she said on Saturday. “There was a lot of mob mentality going on, people willing to do whatever to be in line for merch, food, shows, you name it. A lot of fights broke out throughout the day.”
The company organizing the festival, Live Nation, agreed to stop the performance early in the interest of public safety, Chief Satterwhite said.
“Travis Scott, he took pauses to point at the crowd to say, like, ‘Go help them — they’re passed out,’” Angel Rodriguez, a concert goer, said on Saturday morning. “He did it like three times. He pointed to the area where it was and said for everybody in the area to go help them and bring them to the front.”
Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement on Saturday, “What happened at Astroworld Festival last night was tragic, and our hearts are with those who lost their lives and those who were injured in the terrifying crowd surge.”
As the sun rose in Houston on Saturday, the scene outside the stadium was quiet. A few flashing lights and signs by the roadside declared that the festival has been canceled. “Astroworld canceled,” the signs read.
At a hotel across the street from the stadium, officials had set up a “reunification center” for victims’ families. The police said that a “trickle” of families had come through so far, and that they expected more to arrive as people begin waking up and seeing the news of what happened.
A deputy sheriff, Tristan Birl, came by the hotel to check on his 18-year-old cousin who had traveled down from Dallas to go to the concert, her first big trip on her own. He was relieved to find out that she made it out safe and was with her friends. She didn’t see any of the injuries that happened, he said, relaying a conversation they had had.
Accounts on social media, which could not immediately be verified, described people gasping for breath in the crush of the crowd during the event and calls for help going unheeded. Videos showed one person climbing up onto a riser, where a cameraman was working, and calling for the performance to stop, shouting that people were dying; other people can be heard insulting him and telling him to “calm down.”
Investigators said that they had not yet reviewed video from the concert but that Live Nation had promised them access to it.
Officials said there had been an earlier crowd surge at the entrance to the festival, but that it seemed to be unrelated to the chaotic events that unfolded later.
“Our hearts are broken,” Judge Lina Hidalgo of Harris County, which includes Houston, said at the news conference. “People go to these events looking for a good time,” she said, adding, “It’s not the kind of event where you expect to find out about fatalities.”
The two-day event, called the Astroworld festival, was started in 2018 by Mr. Scott, who is from Houston and who named it after a best-selling album he released that year. The lineup for this year’s festival included Roddy Ricch, Tame Impala, Earth Wind & Fire and Yves Tumor, among others.
Tanya Djavadzadeh, 30, a political communicator who attended the event, on Saturday described it as “a mess.”
“We saw a fight break out because one guy was pushed into another person,” she said. “Many people were very obviously heavily on drugs to the point of no control.”
“I’ve been to so many concerts and festivals and have never experienced anything like this,” she said.
The chaos began when Travis Scott came out, one concert goer said on Saturday morning.
“Everyone was just in the back, trying to rush to the front,” said Nick Johnson, 17, still wearing his red concert bracelet outside a Wyndham hotel across the street from the NRG stadium where the concert had taken place. “I don’t think it was anyone’s fault. I just think after Covid, after quarantine, everyone just wanted to like, you know what I mean …”
As people in the crowd jostled to get closer and closer to the stage, “you could just feel it more and more and more,” he said, “squishing, everyone screaming, not being able to breathe.”
Even as people started passing out around them, others tried to help, he said, but there was no room to move.
His friend Angel Rodriguez added: “I turned around and saw someone with their eyes closed, passed out.”
The pair, high school seniors who had come to Houston from the nearby town of Friendswood to attend the concert with several friends, said that many in the crowd had been wearing hoodies because it was so cold outside, but that inside the venue it became sweltering.
“It was hard for me to get good air,” Nick said. “It was probably over 100 degrees with everyone around you.”
Through all of this, Travis Scott kept the concert going. “I just don’t think he realized what was happening,” Nick said.
The teenagers said they had gotten separated from many of their friends, but that they had since found out that all of them were OK.
“Once people pushed forward, people pushed back, and I could see groups of people falling over,” said Angel, whose white canvas shoes were now brown and torn from all of the people who had walked on top of his feet. He said he had seen people unconscious on the ground, with others trying to help them up.
“Everyone wants to have fun — this shouldn’t happen,” said Nick said, with Angel adding softly, “Nobody expected to die.”
Molly McNamara, 22, said that she had attended other Travis Scott performances, but that the atmosphere at this one had a different energy.
“He was way different onstage this time,” she said of the rapper. “He usually wants people to riot, but he was more intuitive to the crowd — but it didn’t seem to work.”
“I honestly blame the crowd for not taking care of each other,” she added. “I’ve seen Travis multiple times live, and it gets crazy in the crowd, but never have I seen people disregarding unconscious bodies to fend for themselves.”