Travis Scott’s Astroworld tragedy was not a matter of ‘Mosh Etiquette’
Some Australian publications and Twitter accounts have been quick to shift the blame of the Astroworld tragedy to poor ‘mosh etiquette’. Utilising this argument is victim blaming at its core, suggesting that the tragedy that occurred at the festival was the result of the audience members and not the festival organisers or artists. This article today is not to point blame at the tragedy, or uncover whose fault it was, or why the tragedy occurred. Rather, there is no point aiming to blame, or have the focus on mosh etiquette in a situation like last weekend. There’s nothing more those kids could have done to make the festival experience safer.
Mosh Etiquette is a critical discussion that needs to be had regardless of the Astroworld incidents. It’s these fundamental principles and values that allow crowds to go crazy, while respecting the people and others around them. As reported in so many tweets and articles, many people think the solution to the events on Astroworld are as simple as, “if someone falls, pick them up!”. How is someone meant to pick other people up in an almost 50 000 stampede? How are you meant to pick someone up when you can hardly breath, and can’t even bend over to touch your knees? The tragedy of the weekend had nothing to do with circle pits, death pits, or mosh pits.
Many people are using previous experiences of other ‘hardcore’ and ‘punk shows’ in venues where circle pits are occurring as evidence as to what Travis Scott could have done better. Many of them use previous experience of ‘I’ve been in 100s of mosh pits before and never seen anything like this’ as a comparison to the Astroworld incidents. I, also, while not that old, have experienced a lot of mosh pits. Most notably, at rap shows. I’ve been in a Travis Scott mosh pit. I’ve been in multiple Playboi Carti mosh pits, Lil Uzi Vert mosh pits, Night Lovell mosh pits, Freddie Gibbs mosh pits, JPEGMAFIA mosh pits, slowthai mosh pits. All of them were safe, all of them complied with the ‘if someone falls down you pick them back up’. None of the good behaviour that I’ve experienced in those mosh pits would have changed the experience of the festival goers in Houston.
The injuries were a result of a thousands of people strong surge as Travis Scott began to perform. Earlier in the day there are multiple accounts of footage of fans breaching the security gates storming the festival. Fans were packed into a cage-like enclosure, with nowhere near enough medical personnel and exit points. Fan accounts of the show later described the crowd as “like watching a Jenga tower topple.” One fan, as told on TikTok, Gabi Simeoni described Travis Scott’s set, “Things were getting super hectic, people were falling down, people were passing out, I was stepping on people, you could not move.” “I was at the bottom, with six or seven people on top of me … there was one point where my knee popped.” Her videos show only ankles and knees, with crowd members around her screaming for help.
Many people will continue to conflate the incidents with ‘rap music’, ‘rage culture’ and ‘rap fans’. Tragedies like this are uniquely independent of crowd type, and almost entirely to do with infrastructure and safety protocols, both from the performers and the organisers. Crowd surges occur at all types of shows, from religious festivals, rock concerts, clubs, bars and once a game show in the Philippines. Kids were suffering due to mismanagement of the crowd, areas of the crowd being overtly overcrowded, no partitions in between and of course, the concert not stopping as people were dying. All of these listed reasons will soon be unpacked by legal professionals, as they attempt to dissect one of the most anxiety inducing, historical moments in contemporary music.
Words by PARRY TRITSINIOTIS