EDITOR’S NOTE: Our reporter, Gabrielle Arsiaga, happened to be at last weekend’s concert that turned deadly at Astroworld. This is her account of what happened.
“Help” or “Medic” is what dozens of attendees were screaming this past weekend at the Astroworld Festival that left eight dead and hundreds more injured.
I attended that concert and it left me with nightmares.
My family and I went to Astroworld for my sister’s 17th birthday and like most her age, she was excited to go. Not because it was her first concert as a teenager, but because some of her favorite artists would be playing at the two-day festival.
I, on the other hand, was not as excited as I should’ve been.
I enjoy attending concerts and listening to good music, but there was something about this concert that continued to pull at me. I just was not as hyped about it as I should’ve been — though I was glad to be getting out of town.
We traveled to the concert at NRG Stadium, and while the stadium is huge, the concert was not held inside. The concert was held on the grass, and parking lots — with no places to sit — next to the stadium.
When we first made our way into the concert it was like entering a maze.
There were a ton of rails, fencing and barriers and then a strict COVID-19 check. You couldn’t enter the concert without having a rapid test done or showing proof of vaccination.
From there, those entering hit a security checkpoint
— or what was supposed to be security. I use the term lightly because these guys (and gals) weren’t checking a thing. You could walk right through with a bag and “security” wouldn’t even look at you twice.
We didn’t get patted down, we didn’t get searched, and our bags passed right through without even a second glance being taken.
We just moved on about our way.
When entering the venue, there was a large blow-up head of Travis Scott, the headliner, a number of carnival-type rides for concert-goers to enjoy, and two stages for artists to play on.
It was a festival.
There were already thousands of people who had arrived and were getting “lit” as more and more artists began to come on stage.
The crowd initially wasn’t all that crazy, but there were people struggling to stand and acting kind of irate for what should’ve been a friendly concert.
We got to the first stage — the smaller of the two stages — and an artist, Don Toliver, was playing.
We were pretty close to the front and my sister’s 14-year-old friend who tagged along for the trip didn’t let his age stop him from keeping up with the rest of the crowd.
A mosh pit ensued and the crowd started to split into different circles of people, with my sister’s friend right in the center of one of them.
There was a guy without a shirt who had a whistle around his neck and began yelling, “Who can do a backflip?” My sister’s friend steps up and does just that with the look of fear in his eyes.
But he didn’t just stop at one.
He did another, and another, until finally the poor kid taps out and the crowd swallowed us up again.
WE STAYED IN THAT area listening to a few other artists for about four hours. At one point during the show, I separated from my family to get closer to the stage. Now mind you, that was supposed to be the smaller crowd of the two, and at a smaller stage.
I wasn’t even at the main stage yet, or surrounded by tens of thousands of other people.
I get pretty close up front and the crowd continues to carry me closer and closer. Before I knew it I was behind some six-foot-four guys, and directly beside me was a linebacker of a guy.
I was crushed between so many people I could barely move.
I turned to the linebacker guy, and I guess he saw the look on my face and asked, “are you ready to get out?”
I just shook my head and he grabbed my wrist and plowed through hundreds of people. I somehow managed to get back to my family.
Had it not have been for this dude, I know I would’ve passed out.
My family and I left that stage area and as we were leaving, some other guy pushed us and tried to pick a fight. My sister pushed back and we had to drag her out before things got violent. My family and I could see the crowd was starting to get rough and we needed to exit stage left.
We took the minute to hydrate because we knew once the main artist, Travis Scott, came on, we were going to be toast.
We moved to the area where the countdown began for the main artist to come on.
The countdown was a countdown to hell.
That’s the best way I can describe what we were experiencing at this point. Our legs were exhausted from standing so long, people were jam packed in front of a stage that looked like a portal, and though the weather was nice and cool, we were drenched in sweat.
We were waiting in the crowd of about 30,000 people and out came Travis Scott — the main event.
The stage lit up with fire, fireworks and all kinds of lights. The crowd went crazy, people were raging forward, running, pushing, shoving and before we knew it there were thousands of more people who surrounded us.
Just 30 minutes into the show, people were passing out left and right.
An artist by the name of Drake came on and the show really turned bad. Medics were performing CPR right in the midst of all of this chaos and most of those medics were attending to had been passed out for five-six minutes.
WHEN THE MEDICS asked what happened and how long these people were out, no one in the crowd seemed to care. Most responded with “I don’t know,” or “I didn’t even know she was down there man,” — meaning these people were partying right there while others around them were dying.
Most of the people who were passed out created a domino-type effect — one would fall out, and another, and another and before you knew it there was a dog pile of people next to you struggling to breathe, pleading for their lives and just wanting to escape.
What could be done? Nothing. You couldn’t move, you couldn’t breathe due to the pressure from the people surrounding you.
It was like we were in a box, and that box kept closing in on you until you were crushed.
There were people dancing on top of bodies, kicking them, hitting them, some not even realizing there were people under them.
The crowd was hyped up, drugged out, and drunk.
There were ambulances and medic carts in the middle trying to get to those who were hurt or passed out. Nobody in the crowd seemed to care that the medics were just there to help. There were teens partying on top of the carts, jumping, trying to hype the crowd up.
Meanwhile, Travis Scott was partying on stage like nothing is going on in the crowd.
I’m sure he saw it all happening. I saw video afterward that showed him. He looked right at a kid who is being carried out by the crowd and continued his “chant” while watching medics administer Narcan.
Kids — literal kids — were in the crowd falling out, and a handful of people were there to help them.
PEOPLE WERE OVERDOSING, overheating, and having panic attacks. Medics and police were so overwhelmed they couldn’t get to them fast enough.
People were screaming for help, to stop the concert, and Scott’s response was, “Who’s telling me to stop the show? Let’s put our middle fingers in the air and show them we don’t give a (expletive). Put your hands up if you’re good.” All while people are pleading for help, reaching out to the person next to them to get them out.
It was pure and utter chaos.
I think Scott did stop the concert one time to help a guy he could see who passed out in the crowd. I’m sure he saw the ambulance, heard the people screaming, and he knew what was happening.
Scott showed a complete disregard for human life. His wife even posted the ambulance in the crowd on her Instagram story the night of the event and then later took it down.
They knew what was going on around them.
Most of the deaths from the night were caused by people getting trampled, overdosing, or going into cardiac arrest.
By the end of the night, Live Nation, the concert organizer stopped the concert roughly 30 minutes earlier than planned, and about 40 minutes after city officials said the “mass casualty event” had begun.
What were the biggest problems at the concert?
Well for starters, there were no barriers to break up the crowd. Everybody was clumped up together.
There was a lack of care for the injured. Scott and his crew, along with others in the crowd, just didn’t seem to care people were dying. They just wanted to “rage.”
The concert was way understaffed. Despite what the media may say, there were not many police officers and security guards for a crowd of more than 50,000 people. There was maybe a total of 100 cops and 100 guards. The same goes for medics — they were way understaffed.
Not to say these professionals weren’t knowledgeable, they just couldn’t keep up when you have hundreds of people who are hurt, injured, and dying.
The Houston Police Department recovered eight bodies of people who were killed and reported hundreds of others with a number of injuries, or who went into cardiac arrest.
The ages of those who perished were 14, 16, 20, 20, 21, 23, 23 and 27, and there is a 10-year-old in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.