Astroworld Tragedy: Is Live Nation to Blame?

A vigil was held outside the Astroworld venue following the ninth death.

A tenth victim was declared dead in the wake of the 2021 Astroworld Festival. In what the New York Times is defining as “one of the deadliest crowd-control disasters at a concert in the United States in many years,” Astroworld has sparked great outrage. The extensive harm to attendees can be partially attributed to the actions of Travis Scott because of his lack of intervention, which has led to people to criticize him for carelessness and promoting rowdy behavior. 

The complicity of Scott regarding the deaths of these victims is obvious. However, greater attention needs to be paid toward the event organizer, Live Nation. As an American global entertainment company, Live Nation has been responsible for hosting events for many mainstream artists, such as Jack Harlow, The Kid LAROI and Coldplay. Beyond this, it has organized festivals, including Global Citizen, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. Live Nation is well-established, having made a clear name for itself in the entertainment industry. Given Live Nation’s status in the industry, one should be able to expect a high level of professionalism and organization. However, despite being one of the biggest live event planners in the world, it has a long history of safety violations and lawsuits. 

Houston Public Media attributes many deadly incidents to Live Nation, including a 2011 stage collapse at a Sugarland concert in Indiana. Live Nation is linked to upwards of 200 deaths and 750 injuries during its events. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has filed numerous safety citations against Live Nation. Following Astroworld, 12 lawsuits have been filed against the company. Clearly, these lawsuits, violations and injuries have not hindered Live Nation’s ability to secure prominent events. 

In looking at Live Nation’s emergency response plan at Astroworld, NPR noted how it addressed tornadoes, heat, bomb threats, earthquakes and active shooters. However, it failed to anticipate dangerous crowd surges. 

Given Scott’s performance history and his tendency to instigate crowds, how could a company tasked with emergency response for a Travis Scott concert not account for unruly audiences? It ignored crowd crushes, moshing and stage diving, all of which occur frequently at Scott’s shows. The closest Live Nation came to addressing crowd surges in its safety plan simply stated: manage the crowd. Beyond this, there was nothing said on how it would actually go about managing the 50,000 plus people in attendance.  The fact that Live Nation organized this event for Scott, one of the most well-known artists to date, calls into larger questions of how music festivals are organized as well as how much attention is truly allotted to effective emergency response procedures. 

Music festivals are supposed to be fun. Governors Ball, Made in America, Rolling Loud, Coachella and more are staple events that attract people from all over the country and beyond. Lineups are posted on social media, prompting people to hurry to buy wristbands and see performances by many popular artists. In the aftermath of Astroworld, though, how safe are these festivals really? If we can not trust emergency response organizers to plan for situations like this, it is important to discuss the possible deadly outcomes that could arise at similar festivals.

Every year, Villanova students attend music festivals, with the Philadelphia based music festival Made In America a popular event. This past September, Made in America hosted massive stars like Justin Beiber, Doja Cat and Roddy Rich, leading to a crowd of 50,000 people. Many students attended the event without questioning the role of emergency response organizers or how they could fail to keep us safe. Such an overwhelming lack of protection for attendees at these several festivals and concerts is reason enough for caution. Live Nation played a role in the loss of life and level of injury from Astroworld.