Astroworld Fest, as told by people who tried to save lives

Firsthand accounts from the people on the frontlines of Astroworld Fest.

Baa-ith Nurri-Deen/Little Engine Media
Originally Published: 

Friday, November 5, 2021 was a tragic day for the music world. Tens of thousands of people from across the country descended in Houston’s NRG Park ready to watch Travis Scott transform a swath of concrete and grass into a music festival of their dreams. Unfortunately, the weekend turned into a nightmare.

According to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at the press conference addressing the ongoing investigation into the incident, eight people died at the festival. At least four of the deceased were 21 or younger, including a 14-year-old. Five people under 21 were still hospitalized 18 hours after Scott’s exit from the stage. Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner revealed at the same press conference that officers alerted producers to the escalating situation at 9:30 p.m, and that Scott’s set ended early at 10:10 p.m., roughly 35 minutes after he hit the stage.

Three people who were present at the hellish ending of Astroworld Fest who attempted save lives — some of them only attending as fans — were willing to share their stories with Mic.

Natasha, 29, security guard at Astroworld Festival

I was at the festival entrance checking bags, patting people down. We started letting them in around 10 a.m. When they first came, it wasn’t bad. Around 11:47, I texted my friend, “I’m fucking scared.” They’re coming in mobs. They’re just bum-rushing the gates. They were knocking down the gates screaming. They did not care. They were trampling over people. Our security had a few people trying to hold the gates and they just knocked them over and ran them over. Luckily the police officers were there on the horses and corralled them into an area. We put barricades up and tried to make it a little bit harder, but it didn’t stop. It would happen in spurts.

There was one point where a kid passed out next to me near the VIP. Ambulances were trying to get him to respond and he wasn’t responding. They had to put him on the buggy. They literally grabbed me, put me in front of the cart, and told me ‘Get all these people to move right now!’ I’m screaming and yelling, ‘Move! Move! Ambulance!’ I was trying to escort them to the medical tent. This was way before the sun went down and Travis was performing.

Later at night, when SZA was performing, I and my friend decided to go over to get a good spot in [general admission] for Travis. People were literally kicking, pushing, and screaming. All we were doing was walking over to the next stage. I was a bit further back from the front on the left side of the stage up against the barricade waiting for Travis Scott, 40 to 45 minutes before he went on stage. People started piling in, which was crazy because there was still a bunch of space. But, nobody wanted to be in the space, they just wanted to be up front so bad. They were piling in, shoulder to shoulder. At a certain point, I told my friend, ‘Hey, I’m not staying here. Everyone is already shoulder to shoulder. Travis isn’t coming out for a while.’ People were still coming because there were waves of people coming from the other side.

You can kinda separate the festival from the tragedy a little bit because some of it is what people would do at any festival or concert. People don’t drink their water. People are standing all day. People are dehydrated, drinking alcohol, smoking weed, and taking their drugs. So, aside from the tragic stuff, I would [work another Astroworld Fest]. This is my first time ever working it. I’ve heard the rushing the gates, stampeding and trampling people is normal for Astroworld Festival. Due to that, I wouldn’t want to work the front of it at all. But, as far as helping the customers, managing the merchandise in the VIP section, it wasn’t bad. It felt like a normal festival to me.

Lucas, 26, former Marine and attendee

I had to literally pick some random girl up and she was all bruised up from getting stepped on when she passed out, shortly after I almost got dropped. I lost my shoes and start[ed] stepping on anything I could, which I felt [was] mainly other people's legs, and I definitely stepped on a couple of people. You couldn't look down at one point. I saw some girls next to me crying and freaking out so I was really just trying to help them get out, which was hard for me because I was getting dragged down.

Madeline, 23, nurse

My name is Madeline. I’m 23, and this is my third year in a row of going — I went to ’18 and ’19. This was fucking stupid. I passed out, and when I woke up, there was a dead guy next to me while they were doing CPR on him. No one knew what they were doing. None of the medics knew ... they weren’t checking pulses. I drank a bottle of water, looked around, and figured out what was going on. They weren’t doing it properly, so I told them I was an ER nurse — an ICU nurse — and I started helping out. They didn’t have enough people to do CPR.

There were four people in cardiac arrest, at least. This one dude hadn’t had a pulse in 15 minutes, he was blue. He’s dead. I kept going until they got the stretcher there. They only had one defibrillator to shock them to put their heart back into rhythm. They didn’t know what they were doing. They were doing CPR on people who had a pulse. A bunch of cops showed up and they had stretchers, so they started carrying them out and they started carrying people out of [general admission].

They only had one Ambu bag to give breaths to the ones doing CPR. There were four of [concertgoers] in cardiac arrest. They got trampled. It was the same thing to cause me to pass out. This dude had blood coming out of his nose and his mouth. After that, two more people came out on a stretcher with no pulse.

People think it’s cute to storm the gates but there were too many people. I think someone got knocked unconscious during the first [Astroworld Festival in 2018]. I saw 15 people passed out and several people without a pulse at this one. It should’ve been stopped. They should’ve stopped the concert. I’ve been a Travis Scott fan for years and I’ve been to every Astroworld Festival, but after that, I don’t want to come back.