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Rolling Loud goes 18+ following Astroworld tragedy

Rolling Loud organisers are introducing an 18+ age policy for its 2021 California leg in an apparent response to the Astroworld tragedy.

Kid Cudi, J. Cole and Future are due to headline the 55,000-capacity hip-hop festival at Nos Event Center, San Benardino, from 10-12 December.

All ticket-holders under the age of 18 will be given the option of rolling their tickets over the next year’s edition, or receive a refund. The Rolling Loud brand launched in Miami in 2015.

In light of recent events, we will be implementing an 18+ policy

“We welcome everyone to experience our festivals, however, in light of recent events, we will be implementing an 18+ policy specific only to our upcoming 2021 California festival,” says a statement on the festival’s website.

Live Nation promotes both Rolling Loud and Astroworld.

All 10 victims of the 5 November crowd crush during Travis Scott’s Astroworld set at Houston’s NRG Park were aged between nine and 27.

Hundreds of lawsuits totalling more than US$2 billion have been filed on behalf of concert-goers against Scott, Live Nation and its Austin-based Scoremore subsidiary, and other parties including Drake, who appeared as a special guest during Scott’s headline performance. Criminal investigations are also underway.

 


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Nine-year-old boy becomes 10th Astroworld victim

A nine-year-old boy has become the 10th person to die from injuries sustained at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival.

Ezra Blount, from Dallas, who passed away yesterday (14 November), had been placed in a medically induced coma. He is the youngest victim of the 5 November tragedy in Houston, Texas.

“The Blount family tonight is grieving the incomprehensible loss of their precious young son,” said a statement from family lawyer Ben Crump. “This should not have been the outcome of taking their son to a concert, what should have been a joyful celebration.

“Ezra’s death is absolutely heartbreaking. We are committed to seeking answers and justice for the Blount family. But tonight we stand in solidarity with the family, in grief, and in prayer.”

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted his condolences.

More than 100 lawsuits have been filed on behalf of concert-goers

“I am saddened to learn of Ezra’s death this evening,” he said. “Our city tonight prays for his mom, dad, grandparents, other family members and classmates at this time. They will need all of our support in the months and years to come. May God give them strength.”

The news follows the death of 22-year-old Texas A&M University student Bharti Shahani last Wednesday (10 November), who became the ninth victim of the Astroworld crowd surge, five days on from the 50,000-capacity festival in NRG Park. All 10 victims were aged between nine and 27.

Criminal investigations are underway into the tragedy, while more than 100 lawsuits have been filed on behalf of concert-goers against Scott, promoter Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary, and other parties including Drake, who appeared as a special guest during Scott’s headline set.

In his first public statement since the incident, Live Nation chairman and CEO Michael Rapino wrote on Twitter that his “heart goes out” to all those affected.

“We are doing everything we can to get the families and fans the answers and support they deserve,” he said.

Crowded space expert Professor Chris Kemp spoke to IQ about concert safety last week.

 


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Astroworld Festival death toll rises to nine

A 22-year-old student who was critically injured in the deadly crowd surge at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival last week has died, taking the death toll to nine.

A lawyer for the family of Texas A&M University student Bharti Shahani said she passed away on Wednesday night (10 November), five days after the 50,000-capacity event at NRG Park in Houston, Texas. A nine-year-old boy also injured at the festival remains in a medically induced coma.

Criminal investigations are underway into the tragedy, while dozens of lawsuits have been filed by concert-goers against Scott, promoter Live Nation and other parties including Drake, who appeared as a special guest during the headline set.

The Houston Chronicle reports that at least one Houston police officer reported the main stage had been compromised at 9.11pm. A “mass casualty incident” was triggered at 9.38pm but Scott continued performing until around 10.15pm.

He is distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences

Representatives for Scott have released a new statement on behalf of the 30-year-old rapper.

“Over the last week, Travis Scott and his team have been actively exploring routes of connection with each and every family affected by the tragedy through the appropriate liaisons,” it says.

“He is distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid to them as soon as possible, but wants to remain respectful of each family’s wishes on how they’d best like to be connected.

“To those families who would like to reach out directly to his team, please send an email to the below address where we will have a team on hand to assist. AW21information@gmail.com.”

Post Malone is replacing Scott as headliner of this weekend’s Day N Vegas festival in Las Vegas.

Earlier this week, it was announced that a taskforce on concert safety was being formed in the US in the wake of the Astroworld catastrophe.

 


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Safety taskforce formed after Astroworld tragedy

A taskforce on concert safety has been formed in the US in the wake of last weekend’s Astroworld Festival tragedy in Houston.

Announced by Texas governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Task Force On Concert Safety will be led by Texas Music Office director Brendon Anthony.

Roundtable discussions will be held to “analyse concert safety and develop ways to enhance security at live music events” in the state, which will then form the basis of a report of recommendations and strategies.

“Live music is a source of joy, entertainment, and community for so many Texans — and the last thing concertgoers should have to worry about is their safety and security,” says Abbott. “To ensure that the tragedy that occurred at the Astroworld Festival never happens again in the Lone Star State, I am forming the Texas Task Force on Concert Safety.

“From crowd control strategies to security measures to addressing controlled substances, this task force will develop meaningful solutions that will keep Texans safe while maximising the joy of live music events. I thank the members of this taskforce for coming together to work on this important issue.”

Alongside live music figures, the taskforce will consist of representatives from Texas Music Office, Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Municipal Police Association, Texas Police Chiefs Association, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters.

Investigations are ongoing into the Live Nation and Scoremore-promoted event at NRG Park on 5 November. Eight people died and hundreds others were injured after a crowd surge during co-founder Travis Scott’s headline set. A nine-year-old boy is reportedly in a medically-induced coma due to injuries sustained, while a 22-year-old student has been declared brain dead.

Those who need to be held accountable will be held accountable

Houston police chief Troy Finner gave an update on proceedings at a news conference held yesterday (10 November).

“Our department owe it to those families to look at every aspect – how [and] why it happened,” he said. “We owe it to our city, we owe it to our nation and we have to learn lessons from this. Those who need to be held accountable will be held accountable.”

On whether he expected the inquiries to result in criminal charges, Finner replied: “I’m not sure and I’m not comfortable with saying that. I will tell you that we’re not going to leave any stones unturned.” 

Finner confirmed he met with Scott prior to the festival began to discuss safety concerns, but said he had “no reason to believe it wasn’t going to be safe”.

“I’m the kind of chief that I meet with people whenever I can and that includes him,” he added. “We had a very respectful few minute conversation on my concerns.”

While a “mass casualty incident” was triggered at 9.38pm, Scott continued performing until completing his headline set at around 10.15pm. Asked who had the “ultimate jurisdiction” to shut down the festival, Finner replied it had to be a group decision. 

“Ultimate authority to end the show is with production and the entertainer and that should be through communication with public safety officials,” he elaborated.

Investigations should start proceeding over finger-pointing

Some fans had stormed the entrance gates on the morning of the event, which Trigger suggested was triggered by a rush for the “very sought after merchandise” from the merch stands. “That’s what caused some of the kids rushing towards that and breaking down barriers,” he said. “Once they breached, we quickly got that under control and we didn’t have any major injuries so we went on with the show.”

Finner also corrected earlier claims that a security guard had been rendered unconscious after being injected with drugs by a festival-goer.

“We did locate that security guard, his story’s not consistent with that,” clarified Finner. “He says he was struck in his head, he went unconscious, he woke up in the security tent. He says that no one injected drugs in him so we want to clear that part up.”

Meanwhile, Scott’s lawyer Edwin F McPherson has accused the authorities of putting out “inconsistent messages” in relation to the tragedy.

“Houston Police chief Troy Finner was quoted in the New York Times as saying ‘You cannot just close when you got 50,000 and over 50,000 individuals. We have to worry about rioting, riots, when you have a group that’s that young,’ ” McPherson told People. “Yet, just a short time later, Chief Finner states the responsibility to stop the show falls on Travis.

“It was reported that the operations plan designated that only the festival director and executive producers have authority to stop the show, neither of which is part of Travis’s crew. This also runs afoul of HPD’s own previous actions when it shut down the power and sound at this very festival when the performance ran over five minutes back in 2019.

“Investigations should start proceeding over finger-pointing so that together, we can identify exactly what transpired and how we can prevent anything like this from happening again.”

 


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Live Nation initiates Astroworld health fund

Live Nation and subsidiary Scoremore have announced they are setting up a health fund to cover the medical expenses of Astroworld Festival attendees.

In a social media post, the companies provided an update on the steps taken since the 5 November tragedy at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, in which eight people died and hundreds were injured. Multiple lawsuits have already been filed by Astroworld attendees in relation to the Travis Scott-headlined event.

“Throughout the weekend, we have been working to provide local authorities with everything they need from us in order to complete their investigation and get everyone the answers they are looking for,” says the statement.

“Our staff has met with local authorities to provide information, and we have also provided them with all the footage from our CCTV cameras. Load out of the site and equipment is currently paused to give investigators the time they requested to walk and document the grounds. Full refunds are being offered for all those who purchased tickets.

“And most importantly we are working on ways to support attendees, the families of victims and staff, from providing mental health counselling to setting up a health fund to help with costs for medical expenses. Our entire team is mourning alongside the community.”

Many families are dealing with the unimaginable right now and my heart goes out to them

Live Nation chairman and CEO Michael Rapino has also paid tribute to the victims on Twitter.

“Many families are dealing with the unimaginable right now and my heart goes out to them and the entire Astroworld community,” he wrote. “We are dedicated to doing everything we can to get the families and fans the answers and support they deserve.”

Live Nation acquired a majority stake in Austin-based Scoremore Shows, the largest promoter in Texas, in 2018. Scoremore was co-founded in 2010 by Sascha Stone Guttfreund and Claire Bogle.

Meanwhile, Houston police chief Troy Finner has issued an update regarding the ongoing crinimal investigation.

“I met with Travis Scott and his head of security for a few moments last Friday prior to the main event,” says Fenner in the statement, published on Twitter. “I expressed my concerns regarding public safety and that in my 31 years of law enforcement experience I have never seen a time with more challenges facing citizens of all ages, to include a global pandemic and social tension throughout the nation.

“I asked Travis Scott and his team to work with HPD (Houston police department) for all events over the weekend and to be mindful of the team’s social media messaging on any unscheduled events. The meeting was brief and respectful, and a chance for me to share my public safety concerns as chief of police.

“As I have previously stated, our criminal investigation continues. We are asking everyone to be considerate of the grieving families during this incredibly difficult time.”

 


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Astroworld investigation: ‘This is about learning’

Crowded space expert Professor Chris Kemp has spoken to IQ about concert safety following the deadly crowd surge at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas.

Police have opened a criminal investigation after at least eight people, aged between 14-27, died and hundreds others were injured at the 50,000-capacity event at NRG Park on Friday (5 November). Multiple lawsuits have already been filed by Astroworld attendees.

Inquiries are expected to take “weeks if not months” to complete, and Kemp, of Mind Over Matter Consultancy, hopes the findings will go towards preventing similar tragedies in the future.

“These reports sometimes contain less than is actually needed because they tend to focus on blame, rather than support in delivery and development,” he tells IQ. “But what needs to be looked at is both the distal and proximate causations – those elements are so important for the industry to learn from – because this is about learning.”

He adds: “There are a lot of things going on at an event of that size and you have to make sure you’re mitigating risks as much as you possibly can. But I can’t cast aspersions about anything that happened to that event, because I don’t know and we don’t know. All we’re getting is snippets from the press, newspapers, TV, and remember, people like sensationalising things. We need to know the underpinning facts. And as those come out, to learn from them and take that on board.”

Kemp explains the key areas likely to be scrutinised by the authorities.

“It’s most likely going to focus on the planning of the event, the management of the event, the artist’s behaviour, the crowd behaviour,” he says. “It will focus on a range of things with those as major blocks, but also the interoperability between all the services that were there.

“We haven’t yet really got a full view from anybody about what happened. We know what the main elements are, but the overall timeline hasn’t been released yet.”

It’s about three key elements: security, safety and service

Such concert tragedies are infrequent, but not unprecedented. Eleven people died in a crush at a gig by The Who at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1979, while two people were killed at a Guns N’ Roses performance at the UK’s Monsters of Rock festival in 1988 and three people died at an AC/DC concert at The Salt Palace in Salt Lake City in 1991.

Since the turn of the century, nine people died at Pearl Jam’s 2000 headline show at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival and 21 people died and more than 650 were injured in a July 2010 crush in a tunnel that served as the sole entrance to the Love Parade festival in Duisburg, Germany.

“The occurrences themselves are fairly rare,” says Kemp. “But there are thousands of near misses. And it’s about three key elements: security, safety and service, which are things that you balance to make the event work.

“Planning, communication and management, of course, are absolutely essential in ensuring the event is fit for purpose before people come into it.”

Kemp also addressed reports that a concert-goer was going around injecting people with drugs at the Astroworld event.

“Although that was probably not a contributing factor to the disaster, I think it’s something that we need to keep our eye on because it’s been brought up from all sorts of different events, starting in UK nightclubs,” he says. “So it’s very difficult to get a handle on.”

 


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Lawsuits filed over Astroworld tragedy

Lawsuits have been filed over the deadly crowd surge at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas.

At least eight people, aged between 14-27, died and hundreds others injured in Friday’s (5 November) tragedy at the 50,000-capacity event at NRG Park, promoted by Live Nation. A planned second night was cancelled.

Live Nation released a statement saying it was “heartbroken for those lost and impacted”.

“We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation,” it said.

A total of 14 lawsuits have already been filed by survivors in Houston District Court in relation to injuries sustained at the festival, according to Billboard. The first names festival headliner and founder Scott, Live Nation, individuals associated with NRG Park and Texas-based festival producer Scoremore Holdings, along with several other defendants.

A second also names Scott and Live Nation, but adds Drake, who appeared as a special guest during the headline set.

Scott made statements on his social media accounts, speaking of his devastation.

“I’m absolutely devastated by what took place,” he said in an Instagram video. “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened.

“Anytime I can make out anything that’s going on, I stop the show and help them get the help they need. I could just not imagine the severity of the situation.”

In 2018, the rapper reportedly pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after being accused of inciting a riot at a 2017 concert in Arkansas’ Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion.

We still don’t know what caused the initial surge of the crowd

Meanwhile, Houston fire chief Sam Pena has warned the final death toll from Astroworld could rise.

“At this moment what we know is that we have eight people who have died as a result of the injuries suffered at that event,” he told MSNBC. “That number may rise because we did transport more people in critical condition, we took 11 that they were performing CPR en route to the hospital.

“A total of 23 patients were transported after the mass casualty incident was initiated, so that number, hopefully it doesn’t, but it may rise.”

Pena stressed that the cause of the “unspeakable tragedy” was still being investigated.

“We still don’t know what caused the initial surge of the crowd up towards the stage but the Houston police department is looking at video that was taken from cameras that were present there for security purposes and other reasons so that’ll be part of their investigation,” he said. “They’ll be dissecting exactly what the issues were and what caused the surge and if there was anything else that contributed to this tragedy.

“We don’t know what caused it but we had and estimated 50,000 people in that venue. It was just a matter of people trying to push towards the front and get towards the front, that’s what I anticipate, but again that will be determined after they review the film and they review the video that they have from those cameras.

“From the Houston fire department’s perspective, we’ll be looking at the layout of that venue itself and considering items as far as was there enough means of egress, what caused the inability for people to escape that situation so again we will be dissecting this thing in its entirety.”

We want to make sure that this does not happen again and we learn from this

Video footage shows Scott pausing his 75-minute set when medical emergencies became apparent.

Asked whether the show should have been halted earlier, Pena added: “That’s all going to be part of the investigation. Police with Live Nation did decide to, in essence, pull the plug when situation started to escalate.

“It was a chaotic and really tragic event but they did an outstanding job to get resources in there and try to disperse the crowd as quickly as they could. But we’re going to be looking at this thing from top to bottom because we want to make sure that this does not happen again and we learn from this.”

Pena also addressed accounts of a concert-goer injecting other people, including a security guard, with drugs.

“We did hear the same thing,” he said. “Again, we are going to wait for the medical examiner’s determination on the cause of deaths of these individuals so we’ll get a better picture as soon as the investigation progresses.”

 


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Eight dead after crowd surge at Travis Scott fest

At least eight people have died and hundreds injured after a crowd surge at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas.

More than 300 patients were treated by medics following the incident on the opening night of the 50,000-capacity two-day event at NRG Park, promoted by Live Nation.

Tonight’s (6 November) planned second night has been cancelled.

Houston fire chief Sam Pena told reporters: “This is a tragic night. We know that we had at least eight confirmed fatalities tonight and we had scores of individuals that were injured here in this event.

“The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage and that caused some panic and it started causing some injuries. People began to fall out, become unconscious and it created additional panic.

“The mass casualty incident was triggered at around 9.38pm this evening. After that time, we transported 17 patients to the hospitals. Eleven of those that were transported were in cardiac arrest. We won’t know the cause of death of the eight that are confirmed until the medical examiner has completed his investigation.”

Nobody has all the answers tonight

Pena praised the work of the emergency services and Live Nation “in trying to secure what was really a chaotic event”.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Scott, who founded the festival, stopped multiple times during his 75-minute headline slot as he spotted fans in distress and asked security to help them out of the crowd. It added that some fans had stormed the entrance gates at the start of the event at 2pm.

“Nobody has all the answers tonight,” said Houston police chief Troy Finner. “We did have problems on the front, kids for whatever reason started rushing and it got out of control a little bit but we got it under control… I don’t think this incident is related to what happened that caused the deaths.”

With a line-up curated by Scott himself, the festival has previously hosted the likes of Post Malone, Rosalia, Pharrell Williams, Da Baby, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Playboi Carti and Megan Thee Stallion.

Astroworld expanded to two days for its third edition in 2021 following the success of its first two events. According to Live Nation, in November 2019, the festival became the largest single-day artist-curated music festival in the country, as well as the largest music festival in Houston.

 


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