My special guest returning to the show is William Ramsey. He returns to discuss details about the concert Travis Scott held at Astroworld and if there was a sinister agenda behind it.
In Scott's previous performances, a number of legal issues, including his incitement of incidents and praising fans for their participation, were raised. Leading a new micro-generation of trap artists in 2013 bringing punk-rock nihilism to live hip hop, Scott was quoted in several outlets at the time as wanting to bring his childhood fantasy of becoming a professional wrestler to his concerts. Building his reputation with an event that CNN said teetered on the brink of chaos, a Complex review in 2015 entitled "I Tried Not to Die at Travi$ Scott and Young Thug's Show Last Night" called it "the most dangerous safe haven" and "a turnt-up fight for survival."
At Lollapalooza in 2015, Scott was charged with disorderly conduct after inciting concertgoers to ignore security and rush the stage. In 2017, he was arrested for similar conduct after a performance in Arkansas at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. He was again charged with disorderly conduct and received additional charges for inciting a riot and endangering the welfare of a minor. All charges were later dismissed, with the exception of disorderly conduct, which Scott would plead guilty to. That same year, a fan sued Scott and the organizers of a concert at Terminal 5 in New York City after falling from the third level balcony and being dragged on stage, leaving the fan paralyzed from injuries sustained in the fall, with the lawsuit blaming the fall on a crowd surge. At the same concert, Scott was recorded encouraging other fans to jump off balconies, claiming that the crowd beneath them would catch them. In 2019, three people were injured as a crowd rushed to enter the compound at Astroworld. In late 2020, music executive Irving Azoff said that while he would remain an advisor to Live Nation for Scott's tours, he had dropped him as a client, describing Scott as unmanageable.
On November 8, 2021, TMZ reported a promotional video for Astroworld which played up the apparent danger of attending the festival, with spliced news clips hyping the prior years' chaos, had been removed from their social media accounts except for Instagram. Photos on Scott's personal Instagram with his comments glorifying and glamorizing fans that had broken their hands or passed out had still not been taken down. The outlet editorialized in both cases that Scott's "rager" persona and the Astroworld brand that supported it had caught up with them.
Scott was scheduled to start his set at 8:45 p.m., but did not take the stage until approximately 9:02 p.m., starting at approximately 9:06 p.m. with the opening song "Escape Plan". His appearance on the stage resulted in people pushing toward it, leading to a human crush. According to HFD Chief Sam Peña, at about 9:00 p.m. members of the crowd pressed forward and also surged from the sides, causing a crush near the stage; he added that the crush was not caused by obstructed exits but by issues close to the stage, where the crowd was tightly packed. As people struggled to stay on their feet, several began to fall, and many were injured. Panic grew as Scott started his second song of his set, the remaining escape routes shrank, and several attempted to climb over barricades.
At 9:11 p.m. the concert's Unified Command—which consisted of Houston police, festival security, festival production staff, ParaDocs dispatchers and Harris County Emergency Core dispatchers—reported the main stage had been compromised, instructing their helicopter to investigate, as video showed fans unable to escape from the area closest to the stage. As the breach was limited to a single section, an official advised standing by and waiting for concert management. At 9:12 p.m. a tightly packed group of fans in the crowd's southern quadrant began screaming for medical help.
Chief Peña said most of the deaths likely occurred after 9:30 p.m., but according to forensic analysis of dozens of videos from crowd experts for The Washington Post, later confirmed by legal representatives of several victims’ families, witness statements, and publicly available medical logs, at least one victim later declared deceased was seen falling under a mass of people right at the concert’s opening with no evidence he ever got upright again. Three others that also died were seen unconscious in a pile of fans by at least 9:16 p.m., one of whom had attempted to save two younger women’s lives. They were part of a group of at least seven that died from their injuries in the center of the crowd’s south quadrant, where a physicist with tracking software found little to no individual voluntary movement, victims caught between a surging crowd leaving the secondary stage on one end and three barriers on the other, and a density concentrated to as little as 1.85 square feet (0.172 m2) of space per person, inducing compressive asphyxiation.
Several veteran ParaDocs supervisors, including one trapped in the southern quadrant attempting to assist three concertgoers in critical condition while protected with a daisy chain formed by some attendees, told Business Insider the majority of the patients they were attempting to resuscitate did not have signs of physical trauma such as stepped-on faces or chests but had fixed and dilated pupils—signs of anoxia as a result of suffocation while on their feet, something they had never seen before after working at hundreds of festivals. Even for trapped concertgoers who remained upright, a local internal medicine physician confirmed to the Houston Chronicle that those who could not expand their diaphragms, causing blood flow to be restricted to the brain and heart, likely died within minutes as a result of cardiac arrest.
At 9:13 p.m. an officer reported multiple fans scaling a gate. At 9:16 p.m. multiple reports of breathing problems and people being trampled were heard sporadically on radio traffic but with no clear location. At 9:18 p.m. HPD logs and radio traffic indicated at least one crush injury and at 9:21 p.m. crowd compression, then at 9:23 p.m. some fans began climbing a speaker tower to escape the crush. During Scott's song "Butterfly Effect", a security guard recalled over a dozen terrified attendees screaming at him for help to pull them over the barricades, including one woman whose screams were ignored by two men on either side of her repeatedly elbowing her face as they jumped around.
One eyewitness told ABC News that she saw security guards reinforce crowd-control barricades by tying the supporting bars together as they began to buckle under the pressure. Disregarding protocol prohibitive to personal harm, an EMT contracted with ParaDocs described on TikTok an impossible situation of having to reject desperate concertgoers grabbing him to assist others he already knew were likely dead in the crowd, with music too loud for radio traffic to be heard and a crowd that did not care about those around them. One fan who was 40 feet (12 m) from the stage told Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV that when he complained to a staff member, he was told, "It's a mosh pit, what do you expect?" Another recalled to Rolling Stone that he witnessed unconscious concertgoers being crowd-surfed out to safety.
Several attendees told KTRK-TV, the local owned-and-operated ABC station in Houston, that the piles of people in some areas became two bodies deep, and that some tried to help, only to be sucked further into the crowd. A victim filmed herself on the bottom of one of them, struggling to stay alive, and later posted the video to TikTok. Another victim described to the Associated Press how the desperation in the crowd eventually increased to "every man for himself". A HPD officer was then warned by an unidentified official on the radio that they were having structural issues that could be catastrophic.One concertgoer claimed on Twitter that security responded to his pleas for help by saying that they could not do anything to stop the show as the concert was streaming live.
An ICU nurse attending the concert who passed out twice from the pressure on her chest and back described her shock to CNN at the "feral" atmosphere, describing how people continued to trample those on the ground to get to the front despite their screams. Two guests in the rear disabled-accessible section told the Houston Chronicle they saw 50 to 60 people climbing two stories up onto the concert's projection screens with exposed wiring to escape the crush or for better views that were not stopped by authorities. A couple searching for missing shoes and a phone amid the chaos told The Washington Post they eventually found six phones, learning later that two belonged to those who had died. Some medical personnel, including former combat medics, recalled to USA Today that their colleagues wept while working on 11 young concertgoers in cardiac arrest at once in both an over-capacity medical tent and an unforgiving crowd.
Scott stopped the show for the first time at about 9:24 p.m., saying "Somebody passed out right here" towards the front of the stage. Other fans elsewhere continued screaming and waving to attract his attention, but the rapper began his next song. At approximately 9:27 p.m., Scott paused and hunched over after a song. While the crowd chanted his name, Scott stood up and walked to the right, pointing offstage, asking for more lights, then to "make some noise for my boy right there hanging in the tree". Meanwhile, some nearby concertgoers were still calling out for medics. Scott then told everyone to make a gesture with their middle fingers "because they are ready to rage", and continued.
External video Most of the dead Astroworld Festival victims were in one highly packed area | Visual Forensics | The Washington Post UH Student who Attended Astroworld Festival Describes Account | KRPC Houston Astroworld Festival: Tracking the Tragedy | ABC News
At approximately 9:30 p.m., medical staff moved to someone lying unresponsive in front of a reserved section, then multiple barriers were reported compromised, and officials requested a drone get closer for clearer footage. Scott noticed an ambulance in the crowd, pointing and asking "What the fuck is that?" After telling the crowd "If everybody good, put a middle finger up to the sky", two members of Scott's entourage came onto the stage to have an indecipherable conversation for several seconds, after which he turned to the crowd again, asking twice and joined by one of the two others on stage the second time for "two hands in the sky". Many people complied, so he said, "Y'all know what you came to do, Chase B, let's go," continuing the concert with his song "Upper Echelon", telling the crowd that he wanted to hear the ground shake, then sending the two that were on stage to dive off and crowd-surf.
As Scott was starting to sing at approximately 9:34 p.m, a man yelled at a camera operator multiple times from the bottom of his media tower to stop the show, which was ignored. A woman soon joined him, climbing its ladder onto his platform to shout the same concerns of someone dead in the crowd. After also being ignored, the other concertgoer came up onto the platform to join her, but another audience member told them both that the crowd would take care of it. "People are fucking dying! I want to save somebody's life! That's somebody's kid!", he responded. The operator told both to get off the platform and continued to film. Meanwhile, multiple mayday requests from other operators went unheeded as the media towers they were trying to escape were being climbed by other desperate attendees themselves.
At approximately 9:35 p.m, a graduate assistant attending the concert who also worked as a firefighter and EMT confirmed not being able to find a pulse on a 22-year-old woman whose skin had turned greyish-blue as a result of cyanosis, and he attempted to revive her by pumping her chest while getting another attendee to breathe oxygen into her lungs. Relieved two ParaDocs medics had shown up by approximately 9:42 p.m, he quickly realized that not only had they not arrived with an oxygen bag or defibrillator, being told they had run out, but watched with horror as one's compressions were not being implemented properly while the other's backboard had no straps, then after propping that board up on a fence, the woman's unconscious body slid off and hit the ground head first. The victim died several days later at the hospital.
At approximately 9:42 p.m. Scott stopped performing "Skeletons" mid-song for his third and final time of the concert after noticing an unconscious attendee. Security team members provided aid, and he resumed the performance. A video showed an unconscious man being carried from the area.
At approximately 9:43 p.m., one of the victims who later died was confirmed by his attorney to be photographed in the medical tent with a disfigured face as a result of being stepped on by the crowd. During Scott's next song, "90210", a group of concertgoers in the crowd's western quadrant began a "Stop the show!" chant that its southern quadrant had tried 40 minutes prior, but their requests went unheeded. At 9:55 p.m. an audience member was seen dancing on the roof of a retrofitted golf cart being used by medical staff as an ambulance. Just prior to 10:00 p.m. eyewitnesses noted the initial crush seemed to be over, but things got chaotic again with the arrival of Drake, who joined Scott on the song "Knife Talk." Scott and Drake started the song "Sicko Mode" at approximately 10:08 p.m. before the show closed with the final song, "Goosebumps," after which Scott waved to the crowd while jogging offstage, saying "I love y’all. Make it home safe. Good night!"