Hibben: Travis Scott Should Be Banned from Performing


Storey McDonald

(Graphic by Storey McDonald | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Aya Hibben, Opinion Writer


Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert resulted in at least 10 dead and hundreds more injured. My TikTok for-you page was flooded with videos showing people desperately climbing up on poles and fences to get Scott’s attention. Over 100 lawsuits have been filed against Scott and those who were responsible for planning the now infamous concert.

Deaths are not normal at festivals. Concert-goers should be cared for, both by the agencies paid by their ticket dollars and the artist. Beyond financial incentives, artists should advocate for the safety and welfare of their fans. Scott is responsible for his supporters, and his insensitivity indicates that his fans are worth less to him than the profit from their ticket.

What Went Wrong

Attorneys have alleged that Scott and Drake, who performed as a surprise, incited the crowd and provoked panic. Multiple victims of violence and families of those lost have claimed that the concert turned into a stampede and a riot. One lawsuit seeks $2 billion in damages, on behalf of over 200 plaintiffs who attended the festival.

Concert producer Live Nation is being accused of not providing proper safety measures for fans. Attendees claim that there wasn’t enough security and medical help available for anyone who collapsed. A security guard who was expected to work the event quit before it started, said the concert was “understaffed” and “I just had a feeling that I would be in unsafe conditions.”

It is unclear why the concert was not shut down by Scott and his team nor the Houston Police when they became aware of the conditions. Before the concert started, chaos erupted as fans pushed past barricades. In the first half-hour of the festival, fans were already being crushed and some were unconscious or experiencing cardiac arrest. The police knew about these conditions and yet continued to stand by. Even after the concert was declared a mass casualty event, the concert continued.

There were plans in place made in anticipation of “the potential for multiple alcohol/drug related incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation.” But no part of the plan included crowd management like moshing or crowd crush. Fans broke the entrance to a VIP area, just like they did at Astroworld 2019, indicating nothing was improved upon previous mistakes.

Scott’s Reaction is Lacking

Scott has a problematic history that indicates this tragedy was predictable. In 2015, Scott pleaded guilty to reckless conduct after encouraging fans at Lollapalooza to break security fences. In 2017, he paid a fine after pleading guilty to several charges after he again told fans to burst past security and come to the stage, injuring several attendees. Also in 2017, he reportedly encouraged people to jump at a New York City concert, resulting in a lawsuit from a concertgoer pushed from a balcony.

I’ve seen online commentators and fans of the multi-millionaire defending Scott, and while I agree that other people share liability for the deaths and injuries, it’s clear that Scott knew what was going on and did nothing. Scott could’ve picked up his microphone and ended the show. Fans climbed on top of an ambulance helping those who were unconscious, clearly visible from Scott’s vision because he continued to perform. He continued the show as bodies were rolled by on stretchers.

Scott and his team should’ve done more to protect his fan, especially after these past incidents. But it’s clear that these incidents were not learning moments, but rather easy fines that Scott, a millionaire, could care less about.

Moving Forward

A large part of the lawsuits argue that there was no incentive strong enough for these groups to cancel the event, given the enormous financial benefits they sought to gain.

So what can be done when money is put above human life?

If an artist demonstrates that they do not take proper precautions for their fans, venues and police departments should ban them from performing. Less power should be given to these independent agencies so those police departments can shut events down if they become dangerous. The plans required to operate these events should be detailed and coordinated with police departments. These efforts should be prevention-based, rather than reactionary.

Finally, this tragedy should remind all of us that to protect fans’ safety, some performers should not be allowed to perform. Scott should be at the top of that list.

Scott and Drake’s reaction demonstrates that they were completely fine carrying on a show while fans were dying. Kylie Jenner, Scott’s girlfriend, commented, “I want to make it clear we weren’t aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show, and in no world would have continued filming or performing,” which raises the question as to why a dead body is the only thing that would have stopped the show. We shouldn’t feel the need to defend a millionaire whose festival resulted in the death of 9-year-old Ezra Blount.

Perhaps a lack of fame and fortune makes us unable to understand the “stress” that these celebrities deal with. But, more likely, this tragedy shows us the true nature of Scott and those that operated this festival — money-hungry, uncaring and out-of-touch.


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