Travis Scott: Was The Set Worth It?
Astroworld Music Festival was the brainchild of rapper Travis Scott, known for his upbeat, energetic music and incitement of chaos and turbulence within his audiences. What was scheduled to be a two-day event, featuring some of the biggest names in rap including Lil’ Baby, 21 Savage, Roddy Ricch, SZA, and a surprise performance by Drake; was cut short after 8 concert-goers lost their lives, 11 others went into cardiac arrest, and more than three hundred were injured. Scott now faces at least 18 lawsuits as a result of his negligence to acknowledge fans as they pleaded for help and urged him to stop the show.
While this entire event has shocked millions and drawn nationwide criticism of Travis Scott’s actions and the violent nature of his performances, it seems to raise a question about whether gender plays a role in how music artists respond to the risk of violence, injury, and the general wellbeing of the crowds at their concerts.
We all can imagine how intense performing may be as an artist in front of thousands of supporters. It would be natural to miss a hand-drawn sign, or the sound of a fan screaming “I love you!”. However, in Scott’s case, an ambulance was brought into his audience and though he noticed it, he continued to play. In fact, his performance continued until 10:15 p.m., over thirty minutes past the time that the event was declared a mass casualty.
While Astroworld is one of many concert tragedies to have occurred throughout music history, a closer look at how female artists have historically responded to the threat of injury or violence at their concerts as well as their demonstration of care and concern for their fanbase, leaves us to wonder if and how gender might play a role.
Female Artists Who Stopped Concerts to Help Fans
In 2017, singer Adele stopped her concert in Sydney, Australia after a fan collapsed in the crowd. She notified the stadium of 95,000 fans that she was “so sorry, but someone got hurt and I have to check they’re OK.” Similarly, Billie Eilish paused mid-show when an audience member fainted in 2018, saying “wait, stop”, after noticing nearby fans attempting to get her attention. She signaled security and did not return to her set until the situation had been resolved. Lady Gaga, Paramore, and several other female artists have also paused their shows when they saw something in the crowd wasn’t right. If they can do it, why couldn’t Travis?
This raises several questions about audience safety, and about whether or not musicians, especially male musicians, need to have more security protocols for their audiences during shows. A quick scroll through the list of some of the most tragic concert disasters throughout history that involve out-of-control, frenzied crowds, and it’s hard to miss the fact that they were almost entirely headlined by male artists. From Guns N’ Roses to the Rolling Stones to The Who, the deaths and injuries have been many.
While there is talk about issues with the security firm hired to work at Astroworld last weekend in Houston, the plain and simple fact is that Travis Scott could’ve stopped the show, should’ve taken action, but didn’t. Adele, Gaga, Eilish, and Paramore took time away from their performance to focus on the health and wellbeing of their fans. Is this a gender-based issue? Perhaps – but what we can see here are clear examples of who afforded others life-saving attention and respect, and who didn’t. Thinking about it, “I get those Goosebumps every time”.