On Friday (Nov. 5), Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival ended in tragedy when crowd compression and panic lead to a “mass casualty” event in which eight people lost their lives and 300 sustained injuries. Writer Mark Elibert, who was present at the festival, shares his on-the-ground impressions of the event. As told to Dan Rys.
When I got there it was a regular festival crowd, everyone going through entrance, but there were people trying to get in with things that looked like fake passes and were getting turned away. They were then waiting by the gate looking to get in somehow.
Got in, festival was fine, people were drinking and smoking. But the smell of the weed smelled funny; didn’t smell like regular weed. So it seemed like people were doing more than that.
When I got there, security and law enforcement were good, were turning people away, had things under control. But later in the day more and more people were showing up and it got harder to deal with. There was a photo pit by the stage and there were a ton of people in there, when you were supposed to have had a special band to get in there. Started out well and then towards the end it was just a massive amount of people.
Rolling Loud was over-policed, way too many police. Was in the artist area and there were a massive amount of police officers there. Didn’t feel that at Astroworld. There were cops, cops on horses, but it didn’t feel like New York.
SZA went on before Travis, then everybody went toward the main stage. I went through VIP, but before I got there it was a massive crowd of people trying to get in VIP. Some people trying to get into VIP that didn’t have the bands to get in, then some people inside who didn’t have bands on. Thought they must have lost it or taken it off, then thought they might’ve broken the gate to get in. Energy was weird; a lot of people there that looked uncomfortable. Weird feeling in the air.
Got into VIP, then looked back and there were just more people showing up at VIP. Then I turned and saw a whole bunch of people running — they had broken through the gate of VIP, jumping over the fence, it got very full very quickly. Then Travis gets on stage — it was a regular show, everyone having fun.
By the fourth or fifth song, there was a girl who walked out in front of me crying, she said she couldn’t breathe, that she felt like her ribs were breaking, and a bunch of people were trying to help, calming her down. The show kept going. A few times Travis stopped the show to try to calm people down and try to get people to help each other in the crowd. But it seemed off, and he seemed like he didn’t know what was going on. At one point he looked like he was trying to figure out what was going on in the crowd. Then Drake came on, everyone went crazy. Then the show ended, I went home.
After I got home I started looking at the videos and connecting the dots with what I’d seen. I’ve seen Travis perform a lot of times. He always had crazy shows. But this was the first time that energy was off.