What exactly happened at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston? Here’s what we know about the crowd surge and stampede that killed eight people and injured hundreds more.
First, here are the details we can confirm about the tragic sequence of events at Travis Scott’s massive Astroworld Festival in Houston. On Friday, November 5th, the crowd began rushing towards the stage ahead of Travis Scott’s appearance shortly after 9 pm local time. The crush only intensified once Travis Scott took the stage.
Festivalgoers were reportedly attempting to escape from the front of the crowd area, with some climbing onto speakers and taking desperate measures to avoid getting crushed, injured, or suffocating to death.
Travis Scott reportedly noticed the issue but continued his set aside from two brief pauses. Eventually, complete panic ensued as thousands started fleeing the overcrowded areas. Several people were killed and hundreds injured in the stampede and mass chaos. According to one report in the Houston Chronicle, Live Nation agreed to end the show early, though Travis Scott ultimately finished his set. This may have been to fulfill contractual obligations.
At present, at least eight people have been declared dead, with dozens hospitalized with injuries. Victims range from 14 to 27 in age, according to Houston officials. Twenty-five people were transported to area hospitals with injuries in connection with the event. Thirteen of those hospitalized include five minors.
“Last night was tragic on many different levels, and this is a very, very active investigation,” says Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “And we’ll probably be at it for quite some time to determine exactly what happened.”
Timeline of Astroworld Festival – Times in CST
- 9:02 PM: Travis began performing, fans pressed towards stage
- 9:11 PM: video reportedly shows fans trying to escape overcrowding
- 9:23 PM: video reportedly shows fans climbing speaker rigging to escape overcrowding
- 9:24 PM: video reportedly shows man who climbed tree for better view, while fans to left of stage were screaming for a medic and waving hands to get attention.
- 9:28 PM: video shows staff performing chest compressions on man in crowd
- 9:30 PM-9:35 PM: ambulance spotted trying to move through crowd. Around this time, Travis stops the show, calls attention to the ambulance. As the ambulance proceeded through the crowd, two men appear on stage with Travis. It’s unclear if they are fans or part of his entourage. It’s unclear if and what they said to Travis. Travis proceeds with the show (after telling fans to put a middle finger and then two hands in the sky). The two men jump feet first into the crowd as the Upper Echelon begins.
- 9:34 PM: video reportedly shows a woman and man climbing up and pleading with camera operators to get help
- 9:38 PM: The time that Houston Officials said a mass casualty event occurred. Police saw people collapse; CPR was being performed.
- 9:39 PM: 16 Houston Fire Dept. units were dispatched to the NRG Park venue.
- 9:42 PM: Travis Scott stopped the show to ask security for help with an unconscious fan. Travis then continued performing about 30 seconds later as the fan was carried out. Reports also show fans chanting to “stop the show” around this time.
- 9:53 PM: Fire Dept dispatched 12 more units.
- 10:00 PM: Travis brings out Drake on stage.
- 10:10 PM-10:15 PM: show ended (if reports are accurate, more than 30 minutes after mass casualty incident occurred)
Travis Scott has since posted an apology for the Astroworld tragedy on his Twitter account.
Separate reports claim that Travis Scott stopped the show multiple times to draw attention to audience members who needed medical care. But he didn’t stop performing until shortly after 10 pm, one hour after the show started. “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,” the statement begins.
“Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life. I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support families in need. Thank you to Houston PD, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their immediate response and support.”
But Scott quickly began responding to criticism on Twitter and Instagram. “Anytime I could make out, you know, anything that’s going on, I stop the show and help them get what they need,” Scott told fans who were concerned. Scott’s girlfriend Kylie Jenner says they weren’t aware of any fatalities until after the show.
“I want to make clear we weren’t aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show, and in no world would [he] have continued filming or performing,” Jenner’s statement reads.
Roddy Ricch says he will be donating his Astroworld Festival compensation to families who lost loved ones. So what happened during the Astroworld Festival to cause eight people to die?
The Astroworld Festival was very chaotic on Friday night. Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena told CNN that the crowd began to surge towards the stage, leading those in the front to be compressed. The crowd potentially trampled some people who were unable to escape.
But even hours before that crush, security issues were glaring. One video showed hundreds of festivalgoers rushing the VIP area, with security unable to manage the rush. The event may have been dramatically understaffed.
Madeline Eskins, an ICU nurse who attended the festival, says the crowd surged as a countdown clock neared the moment when Travis Scott was due to take the stage. “All of a sudden, people come pressed up against each other, pushed forward and backward. As the time got closer, it got worse and worse.”
“I had constant pressure on my chest; I was being squeezed. Right when he started performing his first song, I looked at my boyfriend and I said, ‘We have to get out of here.'” Some concertgoers report that dividers near the stage to separate ticket holders prevented people from escaping.
TMZ reports that someone in the crowd “went crazy and began injecting some people with some sort of drug” during the Astroworld Festival.
Houston police are investigating that claim. While it remains unclear, Houston PD confirmed that one security officer “felt a prick in his neck” while reaching to restrain someone. Narcan was administered to this security officer and to ‘several’ others at the concert, according to Houston fire and police officials.
As many as 15 separate lawsuits have already been filed against Travis Scott and Live Nation seeking damages.
AstroWorld attendee Manuel Souza was first to file a $1 million lawsuit against Live Nation and its subsidiary, ScoreMore Shows, as well as Travis Scott himself. The lawsuit, filed over the weekend with the Harris County District Court, claims ‘gross negligence’ by Travis Scott and concert organizers while noting that “defendants failed to properly plan and conduct the concert in a safe manner.” Souza called the stampede a “predictable and preventable tragedy.”
As of early Monday morning (November 8th), Digital Music News has been told that as many as 15 separate lawsuits are also in the process of being filed in the aftermath of the show. That suggests that a massive class action lawsuit is forthcoming, with potentially hundreds of millions in damages ahead.
A criminal investigation is also underway.
November 8 – Travis Scott announces refunds of all Astroworld attendees. He will also cover funeral costs for the victims and is offering mental health counseling to those who attended the concert.
Travis Scott has announced he will not perform at the Day N Vegas Festival after what happened during Astroworld. Scott was due to headline the festival at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on November 13, less than a week after the Astroworld Festival. According to sources, Scott is ‘too distraught to play’ and decided to issue refunds for all tickets.
Apple Music was livestreaming the concert, but the video was pulled after Houston police declared a ‘mass casualty’ event.
Epic Games has pulled a music emote featuring Travis Scott from the Fortnite item shop. The Out West emote features a sample of licensed music from Travis Scott. The timing of the emote appearing in the Daily Shop was likely to coincide with the end of Astroworld. There is no block from existing owners of the emote from using it – but new people can’t purchase it.
Fans are asking Epic Games to disable the Travis Scott skins and emotes from the Astronomical tour to prevent their misuse after the tragedy. So far, Epic Games has not commented on the issue.
Houston Police Chief says he visited Travis Scott the day of the concert, revealing concerns about the crowd.
A New York Times report reveals that officials in Houston were worried the event could get out of hand. “The Houston police chief – who knows Mr. Scott personally – and felt the musician had been trying to do good for his hometown, said that he visited Mr. Scott in his trailer before his show on Friday and conveyed concerns about the energy in the crowd,” the report reads.
Harris County Officials release the names of eight victims of the Astroworld Festival.
- Mirza Baig, 27 – Houston
- Rodolfo Peña, 23 – Laredo
- Madison Dubiski, 23 – Cypress
- Franco Patiño, 21 – Illinois
- Jacob Jurinke, 20 – Illinois
- John Hilgert, 14 – Houston
- Axel Acosta Avila, 21 – Washington
- Brianna Rodriguez, 16 – Houston
- Bharti Shahani, 22 – Texas
- Ezra Blount, 9 – Dallas
Live Nation finally issues a statement on the festival.
“We wanted to provide an update on the steps that Scoremore, Live Nation, and the Astroworld Fest team have been taking. Throughout the weekend, we have been working to provide local authorities with everything they need from us in order to complete their investigation and get everyone the answers they are looking for,” the statement begins.
“Our staff has met with local authorities to provide information, and we have also provided them with all footage from our CCTV cameras. Load out of the site and equipment is currently paused to give investigators the time they requested to walk and document the grounds. Full refunds are being offered for all those who purchased tickets.”
“And most importantly we are working on ways to support attendees, the families of victims, and staff, from providing mental health counseling to setting up a health fund to help with costs for medical expenses,” the announcement reads. “Our entire team is mourning alongside the community.”
November 9 – The fallout from the Astroworld Festival tragedy continues, as a 9-year-old is on life support.
The parents of the 9-year-old have retained lawyers after the child was trampled during the festival. He sustained life-threatening injuries and is currently hospitalized in a medically induced coma in an attempt to combat brain trauma.
Meanwhile, Astroworld Festival organizer Live Nation has delayed the sale of tickets for a Billy Joel concert scheduled for September 23, 2022. The tickets were to go on sale on Friday November 12, but LiveNation organizers released the following statement:
“Out of respect for the Houston community after the events at Astroworld on Friday, organizers for the upcoming Billy Joel concert scheduled for Minute Maid Park in Houston on Friday, September 23, today announced they are delaying the on sale date until further notice.”
Drake performed with Travis Scott during the festival and took to Instagram to express his condolences to the victims.
“I’ve spent the past few days trying to wrap my mind around this devastating tragedy. I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself. My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone who is suffering. I will continue to pray for all of them, and will be of service in any way I can. May God be with you all.”
Drake is one of the defendants listed in at least three lawsuits filed on behalf of attendees of the Astroworld Festival. The lack of security at the festival and the concerns expressed by law enforcement the day of the festival has also attracted the attention of the FBI.
The FBI has joined the criminal investigation, with accountability becoming a major focus of the investigations. As part of that investigation, the festival site has been preserved on a judge’s orders.
Harris County District Judge Ravi K. Sandhill issued an order to allow attorneys of Astroworld victims to inspect and photograph the site. Victims sought the order and Live Nation, Travis Scott, and ScoreMore agreed to the terms – including a temporary freeze on the site.
November 10 – The potential for a ‘crowd surge’ to occur wasn’t in the Astroworld operational plans.
AP News reports that the emergency plans for the Astroworld Festival did not include the potential for a crowd surge. A 56-page event operations plan for the music festival included protocols for dangerous scenarios including a terrorist attack, shooter, or a bomb threat – but not too many people in the crowd. More than 20 lawsuits have been filed in connection with the tragedy.
Authorities investigating the festival are reviewing whether the concert promoter adhered to the plans submitted. Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association says his firefighters asked for radios to help manage the festival, but were given a list of phone numbers to call.
“We don’t use cellphones for emergencies. We use radios. We need direct contact because as situations unfold, seconds matter,” Lancton says. The document also told organizers to refer to dead concertgoers as ‘smurfs’ and not to say dead or deceased over the radio airwaves.
Concert-goer Bharti Shahani, 22, is declared brain-dead after suffering extensive injuries during the Astroworld Festival.
“Once one person fell, people started toppling like dominos. It was like a sinkhole. People were falling on top of each other,” Bharti’s cousin Mohit Bellani tells ABC13. “There were like layers of bodies on the ground, like two people thick. We were fighting to come up to the top and breathe to stay alive.” The family has set up a GoFundMe page for donations to cover the family’s expenses.
November 11 – Travis Scott’s attorney has made his first public statement. He criticized Houston officials for inconsistent statements and finger-pointing.
Scott’s lawyer Edwin F. McPherson says city officials have made the situation worse with their comments in the media. “There has been multiple finger-pointing, much of which has been by city officials, who have sent inconsistent messages and have backtracked from original statements,” McPherson said in a statement.
He’s referring to comments made by Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña. Peña told reporters that the performer can play a key role in managing a situation. In an interview with the New York Times, Peña says “the one person who can really call for and get a tactical pause when something goes wrong is [the] performer. They have that pully pulpit and they have a responsibility. If somebody would have said, ‘Hey, shut this thing down and turn on the lights until this thing gets corrected’ – and that’s coming from the person with the mic – I think that could have been very helpful.”
But sources close to Travis Scott insist that the performer did not know the scale of the problems. The show was paused for an ambulance to get through and for when someone collapsed near the stage. However, the event was not stopped completely until after Houston PD officials declared a mass casualty event. (See the timeline above.)
Meanwhile, the lawyer who filed the first lawsuit says he now represents around 150 people seeking legal action against Live Nation and Travis Scott.
“I represent now about 150 people,” Thomas J. Henry told CNN anchor Jake Tapper in an interview. “That lawsuit will be amended day by day. It’s about 110 people at the moment, but I expect probably by tomorrow lunch it’ll be about 150, and by the end of the day based on the trends I am seeing and people reaching out to my law firm, that it may get as high as 200 by the end of the day tomorrow.”
That lawsuit accuses Live Nation, Harris County Sports and Convention, and the rapper of negligence.
November 14 – The death count related to the Astroworld tragedy has risen to 10. Bharti Shahani and Ezra Blount have succumbed to injuries.
A senior attending Texas A&M University and a 9-year-old boy are the latest victims of the Astroworld Festival. Shahani suffered heart attacks and was placed on a ventilator when she arrived at the hospital. Shahani’s family blames concert organizers. “They suffocated us,” Mohit Bellani, Shahani’s cousin, told the Washington Post.
Ezra Blount, a 9-year-old from Dallas, succumbed to his injuries at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Ezra was placed in a medically induced coma after suffering serious injuries. Ezra’s father had him on his shoulders when he was pushed forward by the surge, losing his son and consciousness in the process. According to a lawsuit filed by the family, they allege their son was “kicked, stepped on, trampled, and nearly crushed to death.” The family is seeking nearly $1 million in damages.
Meanwhile, more reports of negligence after the tragedy have surfaced. Drake dropped $1 million at a Houston strip club the day after the tragedy.
Drake hosted an after-party at Dave and Buster’s in Houston, then spent $1 million at a local strip joint. Posts from Area 29 on social media reveal the lavish party thrown by Drake and his crew after the Astroworld Festival. “2 floors covered with money and EVERY DANCER who worked last night went home happy,” a caption read in a now-deleted post. Drake issued an apology on Instagram on the Monday after the tragedy.
Attorney Ben Crump says he is filing more than 90 additional legal claims on behalf of victims of the deadly crowd surge. Like other lawsuits, Crump’s case accuses Astroworld organizers of negligence – including Live Nation, ScoreMore, and Travis Scott himself. Those 90 claims are represented together in one large lawsuit, rather than separate cases.
November 17 – A $750 million lawsuit names Apple, Travis Scott, Drake, and Live Nation as defendants.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 125 victims in the Astroworld Festival tragedy. It seeks damages from Travis Scott, Drake, Apple, Live Nation, and others. Houston attorney Tony Buzbee filed the lawsuit on Monday on behalf of clients including the family of Axel Acosta – one of ten people who died.
Alongside those big names, ScoreMore Shows is named, security firms Contemporary Services Corp., Apex Security, and Valle Security Texas are named. ParaDocs, the firm contracted to supply medical aid during the concert is also named. Apple is part of the lawsuit because the company live-streamed the concert via Apple Music. Epic Records, Scott’s Cactus Jack label, and the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. are also included.
The lawsuit alleges that large groups of Travis Scott fans “outnumber the requested number of police and are already rushing the gates and dismantling barricades. Police began discussing the possibility of shutting down lots and entrances to try and control the event,” a report from the Los Angeles Times reads.
“When [Drake] accepted [Scott’s] invitation to perform at Astroworld 2021, [Drake] was well aware of the damage [Scott] had caused at his shows in the past,” the lawsuit alleges. “[Drake] was also well aware of the anticipated size and volatility of the crowd, and the likelihood of incitement.” The lawsuit mentions several other incidents in which Scott incited dangerous behavior during concerts in 2015 and 2017.