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The Battalion

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‘Defeated’ students speak out about Astroworld 2021

Another individual has passed away as a result of the tragedy that unfolded at the Astroworld festival.
Photo by Jena Floyd

Another individual has passed away as a result of the tragedy that unfolded at the Astroworld festival.

Thousands of fans broke past Astroworld’s gates. Paramedics carried bodies out of the pit. A Texas A&M student begged event staff to stop the show. But the venue hosts did nothing.
Following the Nov. 5 Houston event, the death toll of the lethal concert has claimed 10 lives including A&M electronic systems engineering technology senior Bharti Shahani and, most recently, 9-year-old Ezra Blount.
Over 50,000 people gathered in Houston for the Astroworld 2021 music festival. Chaos erupted when crowds surged forward and began crushing individuals and preventing movement for escape. Many A&M students attended and posted recounts of the event.
“[It was] impossible to breathe, as our lungs were compressed between the bodies of those surrounding us,” university studies senior Seanna Faith McCarty said to her 131,000-large Instagram following on Nov 6. “More people began to scream for help; some began to collapse. The music continued. Hundreds of people ripped their vocal cords apart screaming for help, but we were not heard.”
Shahani was set to graduate in spring 2022. She attended the concert with her sister Namrata Shahani and her cousin Mohit Bellani. She was then sent to the ER with several injuries and on a ventilator, showing no brain activity. She passed away a few days later.
Bellani told AP News Shahani’s last words to her were, “Are you OK?”
According to ABC13 News, family attorney James Lassitor acknowledged the viral video of a woman pulled on a stretcher from the intense crowd and being dropped by event police was in fact Bharti Shahani.
Accounting junior Christian Rodriguez, who attended the festival and has attended Astroworld in the past, commented on the physical experience of being in the crowd.
“It was just so many people in one area, to where if a certain number of people moved to the right, everyone was gonna move to the right,” Rodriguez said. “There was a point where I had no control over where I was moving. It was pure chaos, honestly. I’ve never been scared in any of those situations, but I can say without a doubt that I was pretty scared during the first 15 minutes of the show.”
Rodriguez said Travis Scott tends to encourage this behavior, according to his documentaries and past performances.
Earlier in the day of the Nov. 5 event, Astroworld security was overwhelmed at the V.I.P. entrance by dozens of gate-crashing fans, according to Rolling Stone.
Rodriguez said it was one of the worst crowd atmospheres he has experienced and that it was a different feeling than years past, using the word “defeated.” The show ended earlier than expected.
“I don’t think Travis could have done much, other than stop the show. Whenever he saw someone that needed help, he stopped the show. He probably stopped the show three to four times to allow some attention on the people that needed help. I think the main issue was the set design, lack of security and poorly trained medical staff,” biomedical sciences sophomore Nick Bingham, who attended the concert, said.
The Shahani family attorney, Lassitor, commented in ABC13 News on the lack of trained medics and security, and blames producers, as well as Live Nation, for the design of the set and the barricades, which suffocated fans.
“A lot of it had to do with the way it was set up, so for some reason it was all the artists on one stage, and then Travis Scott was on the other stage. The way the stage was set up made it really hard to get out because you had the stage and then a medal barricade that ran through the middle of the crowd,” Rodriquez said.
Bingham mentioned the significant pain experienced by the shoving of elbows into his chest and the extreme lack of fresh air due to the crowd compressing.
“People were getting carried out of the pit pretty consistently like an hour before Travis got on stage,” Bingham said. “Once the performance started, everything just got worse, and the crowd was moving even more. Sometimes people would start violently pushing or punching people to make room so that they could breathe.”
The Houston Police Department is conducting criminal investigations into the deaths of the concert-goers. Texas government officials are looking to increase precautions for future events. According to the Texas Tribune, the festival’s executive producer and director had the authority to shut the event down, but feared causing further riot.
“‘A statewide task force will look for ways to beef up security at Texas concerts after the deaths of nine attendees at rapper Travis Scott’s performance during Astroworld Festival in Houston,” Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.
Live Nation has had similar events in the past where individuals have died, cultivating many lawsuits, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Following the event, more than 100 lawsuits have been filed against Scott, Live Nation and rapper Aubrey Drake Graham, who appeared on stage with Scott. Thousands of fans packed tightly into general admission as the famous rapper continued for 40 minutes.

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