Traumatized mourners of the eight young music fans who died and 300 who were injured Friday (November 5) at Travis Scott's Astroworld music festival fanned out to memorials and vigils throughout Houston this weekend.
"It really wasn't a concert. It was like hell in there," said Angel Rodriguez, an 18-year-old high school student who gathered Sunday afternoon (Nov. 7) with five friends in front of a makeshift shrine outside the festival site NRG Park. "We were just there to have fun. We didn't know it was going to be a mass tragedy."
Rodriguez and his friends were in the middle of the intense crush when fans rushed towards the stage, where many first-hand accounts have claimed there was no room to breathe. They are survivors of what is now considered one of the deadliest U.S. concerts in history.
Natalia Tavera, a 16-year-old high school student also caught in the crush, fainted twice and wound up lying in a mass of bodies. "I was screaming for help, and no one helped," she said. "It was really tight. At the bottom, you could see dead people. I had to pull on people's legs to get out."
As videos posted on social media showed, Scott continued to perform his set while fans screamed at him to stop the show. Some festival staff did not help either, as shown in a viral video where concertgoer Seanna Faith and another attendee shouted for help but were blown off by a cameraman on a platform. Even Rodriguez, Tavera and their friends criticized festival security staff, and Scott, for not recognizing the danger signs and allowing the show to go on.
"It was like they didn't care," Rodriguez said. Another friend added: "They did not have enough people there."
Scott told fans on social media Saturday he was "absolutely devastated by what took place." After Friday's deadly concert, the rest of the Astroworld festival that was supposed to take place during the weekend was promptly cancelled.
The eight who died in the crush ranged in ages from 14 to 27. The identified victims were Franco Patino, John Hilgert, Brianna Rodriguez, Rudy Peña, Danish Baig, Jacob E. Jurinek, and Axel Acosta. One victim, believed to be in his 20s, remains unidentified.
Immediately after the concert, desperate music fans flooded a police command center at the Wyndham Hotel, a few blocks from the concert, making 1,000 requests to find missing people. By Sunday afternoon, after an intense day of calls and family visits, police cut that list down to 27. Commander Dan Harris expressed confidence that many of those in attendance at the concert had simply lost their phones.
To honor the victims of the tragedy, shrines of candles, flowers, photos and handwritten cards have stretched along Westridge Street, about 100 yards away from NRG Park. Schools the victims attended have also honored those lost with memorials (the New York Times reported dozens of green ribbons appeared outside of Memorial High School just outside of Houston in honor of John Hilgert), while friends and family paid tribute on social media and began to hold memorials Sunday afternoon.
A memorial has been setup outside Astroworld Festival🙏 pic.twitter.com/nBMfbKmtsX— RapTV (@raptvcom) November 7, 2021
Even celebrities - including festival performers SZA and Roddy Rich, Kid Cudi, Trey Songz, Kehlani, Beyoncé, and many more - paid their respects to the victims through social media. Roddy Rich in particular has pledged his earnings from Astroworld to the families of the victims.
Sunday night, Charles Gamez, who had attended the concert and witnessed the carnage while safe in the back, couldn't figure out what to do with his grief, so he attended church - twice.
"For more peace," he said, wearing an Astroworld T-shirt with "Psalm 91" printed on the back, about God's protection from disaster. "[I] can't even listen to music right now," added the 30-year-old, "It's definitely traumatizing."
The first round of lawsuits after the tragedy are now being filed, with three known so far. The lawsuits have been filed on behalf of those who say they were injured at the event, and the defendants include rappers Travis Scott and Drake, the Astroworld venue, and entertainment company Live Nation. Two of the suits are seeking $1 million in damages.
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Article Image: Black and white photos of lit candles lining a street. (Garett Jackson via Unsplash.)