Astroworld and the History of Concert Accidents

Cassie Stremkowski

The aftermath of The Who’s 1979 concert tragedy put next to the site of Pearl Jam’s 2000 incident

A few weeks ago, an accident occurred at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas. The festival, hosted by the rapper, had over 40,000 people in attendance and featured performances by Mr. Scott, as well as rappers like 21 Savage and Latin artist Bad Bunny. The incident occurred on the first night of the event as while Mr. Scott was performing, the crowd surged forward, causing what is called a “crowd crush.” In the end, 10 people had died from injuries. Sadly, what happened at the Astroworld festival has happened in the past, and will continue to happen at concerts unless precautions are taken by authorities.

The Who’s 1979 crowd crush

Concert accidents were happening even 40 years ago. On December 13th, 1979, the rock band The Who were performing for the first time in Cincinnati in 20 years. According to a Rolling Stone article that documented the tragedy, the concert venue offered first come first serve “festival” style seating, and tickets were sold out instantly. Due to the nature of the festival seating, people who wanted a good seat were eager to get into the stadium. 

Disaster struck when the band began doing a routine sound check, and people thought the show was starting. The crowd forced the doors open and began trampling over each other in order to get close to the stage. This stampede killed 11 concertgoers and injured 26 others. Shockingly, the concert went on as planned, and the band was not informed of the accident until after they were done performing.  The result of this accident was the ban of festival seating by the federal government in the city of Cincinnati for over 20 years. This action resulted in less accidents at concerts, and would be an appropriate action for the law to take regarding the Travis Scott incident.

Pearl Jam’s 2000 accident at Roskilde

Another accident pre-Astroworld happened outside of the United States, in Denmark. In 2000, the band Pearl Jam was performing at the Roskilde festival in Denmark, when a crowd crush happened. Reasons as to why this happened vary from source to source, but according to Rolling Stone, it was due to people wanting to get closer to the stage. This concert also had festival style seating, which allowed the crush to happen. 

As Pearl Jam was finishing their song “Daughter”, lead singer Eddie Vedder’s manager told him about what was going on. Something that he did differently than Travis Scott and The Who (even though The Who were unaware of the accident until after the concert), was that he demanded the crowd to take a few steps back. This allowed EMTs to recover the bodies of the people who got caught in the mosh pit. 9 people died, but it may have been even more, had Pearl Jam not stopped the music. This shows that violence and rowdiness at concerts is not an inherently American problem, and that actions need to be taken all over the world regarding concert safety.

The 2021 Astroworld Incident

Finally, the Astroworld incident. This incident happened only weeks ago, and is still fresh in the minds of most who watch the news, and keep up with music related topics. As rapper Travis Scott was performing, a crowd crush killed 10 people. According to the New York Times, Mr. Scott was told multiple times by the crowd that people were dying, but he continued to perform.

 Travis Scott has a history of encouraging fans to be violent and rowdy at concerts. During the concert he said, “I want to see some rages. Who wants to rage?” “Raging” refers to being generally violent, out of control, or rowdy. Among the 10 that died included a 9-year old boy who was on the shoulders of his father. Travis Scott did not stop the concert, and it concluded 30 minutes after the Houston Police Department declared the festival a “mass casualty event”. 

What We Can Do

What can we take away from these accidents, and what can we do to prevent these tragedies from happening again? It can be proven that concert accidents have been happening for many years, and that the one thing they all seem to have in common is festival seating. While encouraging violence at the concert and not stopping despite knowing people were dying is also a problem, at the root of everything the problem is festival seating. Festival seating should be either permanently banned worldwide, or heavily monitored and limited in order to avoid tragedies like this from happening ever again. If you ever find yourself at a concert with festival seating, take precautions beforehand in order to avoid an accident that could cost your life.