Fan culture responsible for tragedy


Albert Smith

As a fan of any artist, it is a great experience to see them live. The ability to further immerse yourself into the music surrounded by other fans provides an atmosphere unlike any other. Concert goers, however, must be on high alert now following the events of Astroworld, a popular music festival held in Houston headlined by multi-platinum artist Travis Scott. With a death count of at least 10 and hundreds of lawsuits filed against Scott and Live Nation (entertainment company), many blame Scott for his encouragement of extreme fans and hectic concert environments. Others blame Live Nation for the lack of security and lack of space at the venue. 

As most of the blame is placed upon Scott, many tend to overlook those who even made the event possible, the fans. 

Fan culture for major artists hasn’t just now become dangerous. In 1991 at Riverport Amphitheatre, now known as Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in St. Charles, head singer of Guns ‘n Roses, Axel Rose, took action against an unauthorized photographer and blamed security for not taking care of the situation. The band left the stage and ended their show early, which caused a riot that left 60 people injured. Rose was charged with four counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of property damage. 

At the Astroworld concert, Sam Pena, Houston fire chief, was first to respond publicly regarding the crowd’s reaction when Scott began performing. Thousands began to push forward to get closer to the stage. According to CNN, Pena said, “They were unable to escape that situation.The crowd surged towards the stage causing people in the front to be compressed.”

The environment became so manic that there was a lack of space and oxygen. Concert goer Alexis Guavin described the scene to CNN. 

“Once he started, all hell broke loose,” Guavin said. “All of what is to be 50,000 people ran to the front, compressing everyone together with the little air available.”

According to The New York Times, a video appears to show attendees dancing on and blocking an ambulance that was trying to get into the crowd. The video also seems to show people getting on top of security vehicles. It does not seem like those fans knew what was going on or why the vehicles were trying to get into the crowd.  

While there were some attempts made by the crowd to get people help, there were also accounts of people encouraging the continuation of the show and downplaying attempts to stop the show by telling people to “be quiet” and “calm down.” 

As people became hospitalized and died, the question lingered about why the show wasn’t stopped. Troy Finner, Houston Police Department Chief, expanded on this idea at a press conference following the events at Astroworld. “You cannot just close when you’ve got 50,000 individuals, okay?” Finner said. “We have to worry about riots when you have a group that’s that young.”

It is convenient to place the blame on Scott, but there is much to be said about his fan base. While the majority of the concert goers were there for a performer, Scott couldn’t have possibly known that there were fans dying in the midst of his set. Fans, however, played a key role in the inability to get these people the help they needed. Whether it was blocking health officials or silencing the concerned concert goers, there is reason to question fan culture and how we approach our favorite artists. 

Hype should further drive your love of an artist, but not so much to the point where it is irresponsible or dangerous. Partial responsibility has to be put on the fans who couldn’t recognize that their love of Scott’s music and persona shouldn’t surpass their concern of others. The deaths at Astroworld have become controversial due to the lack of a clear target for the public to point their finger at when the truth is that everyone is to blame. 

As one of the most looked at and influential figures of our generation, Scott should’ve known better than to support unwarranted concert goers. Live Nation should have looked into a more suitable and appropriate venue as Scott’s popularity has only risen since the last Astroworld Festival pre-Covid. Some of the people in that crowd valued their experience over human life and tragedy struck as a result. Crazy concerts are not unheard of whether it’s the aforementioned Guns ‘n Roses concert or fans surging towards the stage to get a better view of the late Michael Jackson, but it is our responsibility to look out for our fellow man and not let our need for a good experience trump our care for one another.