A tenth victim was pronounced dead during the 2021 Astroworld Festival. In what the New York Times defines as “one of the deadliest mass control disasters at a concert in the United States in many years,” Astroworld has caused great outrage. The extensive damage to attendees can be attributed in part to Travis Scott’s actions for failing to intervene, which has led to people criticizing him for negligence and promoting rowdy behavior.
Scott’s complicity in the death of these victims is evident. However, more attention needs to be paid to the Live Nation organizer. As an American global entertainment company, Live Nation has been responsible for hosting events for many mainstream artists including Jack Harlow, The Kid LAROI and Coldplay. It has also organized festivals including Global Citizen, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits. Live Nation is well established and has made a name for itself in the entertainment industry. Given Live Nation’s status in the industry, one should expect a high level of professionalism and organization. Despite being one of the largest live event planners in the world, it has a long history of security breaches and lawsuits.
Houston Public Media attributes many fatal incidents to Live Nation, including a stage collapse in 2011 at a Sugarland concert in Indiana. Live Nation has been linked to more than 200 deaths and 750 injuries during its events. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has filed numerous safety allegations against Live Nation. According to Astroworld, 12 lawsuits have been filed against the company. These lawsuits, violations, and injuries clearly did not prevent Live Nation from securing prominent events.
While looking at Live Nation’s contingency plan at Astroworld, NPR saw how it dealt with tornadoes, heat, bomb threats, earthquakes and active shooters. However, dangerous crowds could not be expected.
Given Scott’s performance history and his propensity to stir up crowds, how could a company hired to provide emergency assistance for a Travis Scott concert not cater to the unruly audience? It ignored crowd crushing, moshing, and stage diving, all of which are common at Scott’s shows. The Live Nation came closest to addressing crowds, crowd managing, in their security plan, which was simply said. Furthermore, nothing was said about how the 50,000+ people present would actually be managed. The fact that Live Nation organized this event for Scott, one of the most famous artists to date, raises bigger questions about how music festivals are organized and how much attention is paid to truly effective emergency response.
Music festivals should be fun. Governors Ball, Made in America, Rolling Loud, Coachella and more are must-see events that draw people from all over the country and beyond. Lineups are posted on social media, causing people to rush to buy bracelets and see performances by many popular artists. But how safe are these festivals after Astroworld? If we cannot trust the emergency response organizers to plan such situations, it is important to discuss the possible deadly consequences that could arise at similar festivals.
Villanova students attend music festivals each year, with the Philadelphia-based Made In America music festival being a popular event. Last September, Made in America hosted big stars like Justin Beiber, Doja Cat, and Roddy Rich, which led to a crowd of 50,000 people. Many students attended the event without questioning the role of emergency organizers or how they might fail to protect us. The overwhelming lack of protection for visitors to these numerous festivals and concerts is reason enough for caution. Live Nation played a role in Astroworld’s loss of life and injury rate.