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Following Astroworld tragedy, students should avoid large concerts

Elizabeth Billman | Senior Staff Photographer

The tragedy at Astroworld should be a wake up call for all venues and artists.

On Nov. 5, 50,000 people gathered in Houston, Texas, for the first night of rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld music festival, a two-day outdoor event. The show quickly turned from an ordinary concert to a horrific tragedy. During a large and persistent crowd surge, hundreds of concertgoers were injured. Ten people between the ages of 9 to 27 were killed.

Shocking footage from the event spread on social media, leaving the outside world to question how this tragedy could ensue. Videos surfaced of two crowd members climbing on stage to beg for the show to be stopped in order to get medical help for the injured audience members. 

The incidents that occured at the festival are heartbreaking. There is no denying that concertgoers should be guaranteed safety at live shows. Outdoor shows with large crowds are often unsafe due to poorly regulated security, rowdy fans, and artists who encourage fans to act unruly in order to make an event more “hype.”

Syracuse University students and other community members should avoid attending large concerts until more planning is done to ensure the safety of all attendees at large music festivals and concerts like Astroworld. Astroworld’s 56-page safety plan, for example, failed to detail a clear protocol for what to do in an instance of a crowd surge, Houston Public Media reported. Aldo Raineri, the head of courses for Safety Science at Central Queensland University in Australia, identified risks of outdoor music festivals (OMFs).

“Attending these OMFs is associated with an increased risk of injury and, in extreme cases, death. A considerable proportion of these risks can be attributed to high-risk behaviour in the general admission or standing room only areas in front of the stages, or ‘mosh pits,’” Raineri’s research reads. 

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Many SU students are familiar with being a part of rowdy crowds. The Pitbull concert at St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview, as well as the 2021 Juice Jam festival, presented by University Union, were two popular live music events among SU students. 

The Pitbull concert exhibited many traits of an unsafe concert environment. According to the St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview website, all bags are to be searched upon entry to the venue. But Stephanie Wright, a freshman at SU, felt that security did not do a good enough job scanning concertgoers. 

Wright felt that the concert’s written safety procedures did not correlate with the venue’s stated safety policies. She noticed a clear lack of security and organization when it came to entering the venue.

“I was a part of a mob where everyone was just pushing forward to get into the venue. I had my ticket ready to scan, but it never got checked. There was no one there to scan tickets. There also was no one checking bags or pockets,” Wright shared. 

The concert experience didn’t get better from there. During her time on the lawn, Wright witnessed a tightly packed crowd that made it difficult to breathe. Getting in and out of the crowd became difficult, she said.
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“I remember I got moved forward a few rows, so I ended up losing track of the people I came with, which was scary,” Wright said. 

The Juice Jam festival also exhibited hazardous behavior, making the environment unenjoyable and at times dangerous for attendees. SU student Kandra Zaw experienced moshing from her spot near the front of the stage. Zaw believes that the crowd got out of hand when B.o.B. began his set.

“B.o.B. launched himself into the crowd. No one was expecting it or was ready for it. He fell directly on top of my friend. He didn’t help her up after he crushed her,” Zaw said. “B.o.B. had the power to calm the crowd. He kept encouraging that behavior. If you see people in tears and bleeding, do something to stop it.”

Even smaller concerts like these pose a threat to individual concertgoers. Though Juice Jam had active security throughout the event, guards cannot account for unprecedented actions taken by performers. Until there are stricter and more comprehensive rules and guidelines for venues and artists to follow, students should stay away from these concerts. 

Artists have a large influence over the environment of their shows. The power dynamic between a famous artist and the thousands of fans that come to concerts can be dangerous, especially if the performer abuses their influence. Artists must actively condemn acts of barricading, moshing and pushing within crowds to protect their fans. It is necessary that musicians prioritize their fans’ well-being by checking in with the audience and listening when problems arise. 

Additionally, venue security must be emphasized at each level, with more guards who are ready to protect attendees and enforce organized safety procedures. There is no room for error with creating strict and detailed plans that describe what to do in the event of a crowd surge. Enforcing these rules has the power to prevent tragedies. 

Live music is a special experience for avid concertgoers. Appreciation and excitement for live music has only been amplified after enduring a long pandemic that left fans without concerts for months. But until live music events, specifically outdoor shows, are planned more thoroughly and with more care towards audience members, people should refrain from attending these large concerts. Safety and well-being must be the priority, even over a favorite song or artist. 

Cara Steves is a freshman magazine and digital news journalism major. Her column appears biweekly. She can be reached at [email protected].







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