I Attended Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival That Took A Dark, Deadly Turn

Robyn Mowatt Robyn Mowatt is a Staff Writer at Okayplayer where she…
Travis Scott
Photo Credit: Erika Goldring for WireImage

The daylong Astroworld Festival created by Travis Scott left eight dead. Hundreds left the concert injured. Nothing prepared me for the reckless mosh pit.

Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival hosted at NRG Park in Houston, Texas on Friday took some dark turns. Eight victims died out of about 50,000 attendees. 

In a press conference on Saturday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner shared the eighth victim’s age had not been identified, but 14-year old, a 16-year-old, two 21-year-olds, two 23-year-olds, and a 27-year-old were reported dead. Per a report, 300 were also injured and a ninth-grade student was also a victim.

As an attendee, there was no way that my friends and I were prepared for this morbid news that broke hours after we made it to our homes and hotels safely.

After arriving at roughly 2 p.m. on Friday, it was clear that many fans had attempted to sneak in, in many ways, I’d called a photographer and he shared that this was happening with crowds of people who may or may not have been ticketed guests. To enter the massive festival, all guests including media, VIP ticket holders, and general admission were expected to enter in the same line and then cross a bridge to reach the large lot behind NRG Park. I assumed this was because of the fans that forced their way into the lot.

Thousands of people were at NRG Park by the time I arrived. I was a bit unsettled by the fact that there was one way in and one way out of the festival.

As soon as we entered we saw festival rides that fans were riding such as a Ferris Wheel and a merchandise line that had hundreds of people waiting to purchase exclusive items. At one point early into our time there, I saw a video on Twitter of hundreds of individuals running through a barricaded area.

Additionally, the lot was equipped with a dome where special performances took place including a set by Travis Scott’s longtime DJ Chase B and two large performance stages. One stage was titled Utopia Mountain, this was where Travis Scott’s performance was slated to take place at 8:45 later in the evening. 

I vividly recall seeing a large medical tent extremely close to a media area for the press to charge their phones and devices like cameras. There was no eerie feeling up to this point of the day around 5 pm.

The caption in a now-deleted photo on the official Astroworld Instagram featured a confirmed setlist which featured Metro Boomin, Master P, Yves Tumor, Toro Y Moi, Don Toliver, Roddy Ricch, Lil Baby, and SZA as the day one performers. 

Thousands of concertgoers were sitting on the ground of NRG’s lot, others found areas to sit that were strategically placed: large trees that had grass underneath them. More attendees took up time between sets by finding food at the countless food trucks that were lined up or found alcoholic beverages and just overall seemed happy to be there. By 3 pm fans were already waiting by Utopia Mountain to find a spot for Scott’s forthcoming set.

Crowds were heavily packing the general ticket areas as acts like Toro Y Moi and Don Toliver performed. Toliver was the first time I realized ticketed guests were aiming to aggressively enter VIP/media areas despite not having the correct bands. Security guards at this specific entrance on the far right side of the lot appeared to be disgruntled and agitated by these actions. To be frank, Don’s set was enjoyable but difficult to swallow as he was accused of sexual assault in August. Lil Baby and SZA shared solid performances during their sets. 

Around 8:30 pm things took a turn for the worse. While inside a VIP/media viewing area by Utopia Mountain it became apparent that younger fans were going to force their way to the front of this area. This was also when I realized many concertgoers appeared to be on drugs, even though we were stacked body to body, fans kept pushing forward. 

I personally felt a bit unsafe because I imagined things would worsen by the time Scott came out. While I felt unsafe and scared, more and more fans attempted to push themselves forward to the front of this area that was already overcapacity. These attempts to move forward did not surprise me as Scott’s fans are notorious for creating violent mosh pits to rage in during his concerts.

By roughly 9 pm Travis was on stage seconds into the performance, a mosh pit started and fans were rowdy, uncontrollable, and didn’t appear to care for others’ wellbeing around them. After these few moments, I decided to move out of this area completely. It was tough pushing through to get out of this area while Scott was on stage, but I knew this was best for my safety. 

Tracks like “Mamacita,” “No Bystanders,” and “90210” were a part of Scott’s set. Then Mike Dean and Drake appeared. The Toronto rapper shared tracks off his album Certified Lover Boy including “Knife Talk,” “TSU,” “Way 2 Sexy,” and “N 2 Deep.”

There was a point of the evening that gave me an inkling that things might not end on a good note, Travis stopped at one point of his set to address that he could see that a fan was passed out. But, he continued performing after he mentioned this. I also recall him declaring he wanted everyone to make the “ground shake.” By 10 pm he ended the concert. 

While I walked out with friends, a teenager shared that a friend of hers had gotten trampled four times during Travis Scott’s set. It took us over 30 minutes to get completely out of NRG Park, thousands of ticket holders were exiting at the same time.

Around 2 a.m. on Saturday I found out that eight attendees died. When this news broke, it was also announced day two of the festival was canceled. 

Before I went to sleep I read countless unconfirmed tweets stating disturbing firsthand accounts of the evening, I also saw a video of someone being resuscitated. By Saturday there was another video floating of fans hopping onto a riser in an attempt to notify a cameraman shouting that people were dying.

One concertgoer Billy Nasser told CNN: “People were getting trampled. They were losing their balance and then tripping over people on the floor.” He also said, “People were dying left and right.”

A fan declared people were passing out during the set due to not being able to breathe. High schoolers recalled getting separated from their friends. CPR was also reportedly done in the crowd while the concert was still happening.

In the morning, Scott released a statement on Twitter. It read: “I’m absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival.” He also shared he was committed to working together with the Houston community to “heal and support the families in need.”

At a separate news conference on Saturday, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said a security officer was “allegedly pricked in the neck” while he tried to restrain a concertgoer. The security officer fell “unconscious” while being examined by medical staff, Narcan was used to save his life. Reportedly Narcan was utilized several times at Astroworld. 

On Saturday evening Travis released videos with a new statement via Instagram on the festival. In the clip he said:

“I just want to send out prayers to the ones that was lost last night. We’re actually working right now to identify the families so we can help assist them through this tough time. You know my fans really mean the world to me man and I always just really want to leave them with a positive experience. Anytime I can make out anything that’s going on I stopped the show and helped them get the help they need. I could never imagine the severity of the situation.”

He also shared, “We’ve been working closely with everyone to try to get to the bottom of this in the city of Houston.”

The concert is being investigated and reviewed according to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

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