opinion

Travis Scott, and the past he will come to deeply regret.

There’s a lyric by Travis Scott he must wish he never wrote.

In the song 'Stargazing' Scott raps, "it ain't no mosh pit if ain't no injuries, I got 'em stage divin' out the nosebleeds." 

When he wrote those lyrics in 2018, he did not know there would be eight people who would spend their last moments gasping for breath at his own concert. 

That would never have been his intention. 

Scott - whose real name is Jacques Webster - will no doubt be forever changed by what happened on Friday night. The death of a 14-year-old boy who loved baseball. A 16-year-old girl who loved dancing. Eight families deep in grief, who will spend their lives wishing their loved one never bought a ticket to Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival.

This is not the first time a stampede of sorts has ended in mass casualties.

Watch news reports following the devastating explosions at Ariana Grande's concerts. Post continues after video.


Video via Sunrise.

According to The Washington Post, there have been at least 110 deadly crushes of crowds at events in the last 20 years. These include concerts, soccer games and religious pilgrimages. 

But what happened on Friday night was different. 

Travis Scott wasn't just an artist performing at a music festival. Astroworld was founded by him in 2018, located in his home city of Houston, at the site where Six Flags Astroworld once stood. 

Astroworld was Scott's festival. It is synonymous with his name. That's why his alleged history of "inciting violence" at live events and ignoring safety protocols is something he likely regrets.

In 2015, Scott's set at Lollapalooza lasted barely five minutes.

He told security to "get the f*ck back" and added, "middle finger up to security right now." While leading the chant "we want rage," Scott encouraged attendees to climb over security barricades and storm the stage. 

He was charged with disorderly conduct.

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In an interview with GQ in the same year, Scott admitted he wanted his performances to feel like "it's the WWF or some s**t".

"We don’t like people who just stand," he told the publication.

Two years later, during a show at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavillion, Scott was arrested after encouraging fans to, again, ignore security and join him on stage. Several people were injured, and the rapper was accused of inciting a riot, disorderly conduct and endangering the welfare of a minor. Ultimately, he struck a deal with prosecutors, and paid more than $6,000 to two people who were injured. 

Weeks later, a man named Kyle Green was left partially paralysed after attending a Travis Scott concert in New York City.

Scott reportedly encouraged crowd members to jump from the second-storey balcony into the mosh pit below. He allegedly told fans "don't be scared", and in video obtained by The New York Times, he insists "they're going to catch you".

Green, who was 23 at the time, says he was pushed from the level above. 

Despite being seriously injured, Green claims Scott told fans to drag him to the stage so he could be given a ring as a 'consolation prize'. 

Today on Mamamia Out Loud, we discussed the horrific crowd surge which caused the deaths of eight people, and what led to it. Post continues below. 

Speaking to the New York Post, Green said: "Before I knew it, I was surrounded by security guards, who scooped me up."

"Travis Scott was yelling at his security guards to bring me to the stage.

"I was in a lot of pain. I just laid there, and finally, an ambulance came."

Green was partially paralysed after the incident. He sustained a fractured vertebra, a broken wrist and a fractured ankle. Scott, as well as his manager, the concert promoter and security company, were sued, and the case is ongoing. 

Green's lawsuit claims both the venue and security company should have known Scott "had incited mayhem and chaos at prior events". This had become a pattern of behaviour. 

Then, there was last Friday night. 

As The Washington Post reported, "it was trouble from the start."

From early in the day, crowds were reportedly knocking down barricades and storming gates.

When Scott's performance began at around 9pm, the crowd - already pushing and shoving - changed.

Speaking to The New York Times, 17-year-old Nick Johnson described it as "like hell".

"Everybody was just in the back, trying to rush to the front."

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Another attendee, 23-year-old Chris Leigh, said "people were literally grabbing and pinching at my body trying to get up from the ground. I was fighting for my life; there was no way out."

About 20 minutes into his set, Scott paused the show, noticing a "small boy" hanging in a tree. But then he continued. 

"I want to see some rages," he shouted. "Who wants to rage? … Make some noise!"

According to those who were there, Scott stopped and started the show at least four times. 

At one point, he spotted an ambulance driving into the crowd. 

"What the f**k is that?" he asked. 

At one point, two men entered the stage, and whispered something to Scott. We do not know what they said. But we do know that Scott dismissed them, and then asked fans to put their hands in the air, introducing the next song. 

"Y’all know what you came to do... I want to make this motherf***ing ground shake... here we go."

Not long after, Scott identified someone in the crowd who appeared to be unconscious.

"We need somebody to help, somebody’s passed out right here," he said from the stage. "Hold on, don’t touch him, don’t touch him."

"Everybody just back up," he said. "Security, somebody help, jump in real quick. Come on, come on, security, get in there, let’s get in there, let’s get in there, let’s get in there."

Still, the show continued. 

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During and after Scott's performance, more than 300 people were treated by medics. The Washington Post reports 23 were transported to hospital, and 11 of them were in cardiac arrest. Eight ultimately lost their lives. 

From the stage, it's entirely plausible Travis Scott was not aware of the escalating situation unfolding in the crowd below. Perhaps he sensed some unease, but did not comprehend the gravity of it. 

No performer stands on a stage and wishes harm on the people who make up their audience. 

His concert history - arrests, injuries, tensions with security - could conceivably be entirely unrelated to what happened on Friday night. An unfortunate coincidence.

It will likely be up to a court to determine that.

The other possibility is that a scene had long been set for a crowd to lose control. To ignore security. To push and rage and make the ground shake. 

As tickets for Astroworld sold out in May this year, Scott wrote in a since deleted tweet: "NAW AND WE STILL SNEAKING THE WILD ONES IN." 

It was a reference to fans who had not bought tickets jumping the fence. A key concern from many attendees over the weekend has been their experience of overcrowding. 

Regardless of what a court finds, the lives of eight families are changed forever. 

So too is Travis Scott's.

For more from Clare and Jessie Stephens, you can follow them on Instagram.

Feature Image: Getty.


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