'Could have been prevented': Local event security expert questions concert safety at Astroworld

Travis Scott
Posted at 7:32 PM, Nov 08, 2021

(LEX 18) — People are rethinking festival culture and how security for large events is handled after Astroworld Festival in Houston.

Eight people died and hundreds of others were injured when a crowd surged toward the festival's stage during Scott's performance. The surge squeezed fans so tightly together that officials say they couldn't breathe or move their arms.

Travis Scott fan Iseyah Byrd says he had plans to attend but is now thankful something popped up last minute.

"Travis Scott, Astroworld, like that whole thing is such a big thing... different than other concerts and such," said Byrd.

But the lives lost and chaos that ensued on Friday has him rethinking the title of "rager."

"It's kinda mindless jumping or mindless behavior at a concert," explained Byrd. "I'm nervous going to concerts now because of everything that's happened. I think it all depends on Travis Scott himself. If he would stop encouraging this kind of behavior, like 'guys, clearly we're doing too much here.'"

Byrd feels like the "we outside" culture, a term used to coin the excitement of finally attending events after being cooped up from pandemic quarantines, has changed the concert landscape.

"It has been more violent and a lot less controlled than what it used to be," said Byrd.

What happened is changing a lot of minds about big concert culture and event security.

"All the things that happened, unfortunately, in Houston could have been prevented," said Tom Ramsey, CEO of CK Tactical Security.

Ramsey's company protects events large and small, including UK football games with crowds greater than the 50,000 at Astroworld.

"First of all, they only had one entrance, right? So when you only have one entrance, you're trying to funnel that many people, and really, it doesn't matter if it's 6,000 or 60,000 or 600," said Ramsey. "The second thing... I believe it was general admission. So there were no exact seats on your tickets. The third thing is it looks like they were severely understaffed. I mean, I only saw a couple of security personnel and event coordinators."

Ramsey suggests organizers of large events avoid general admission for safety reasons.

He hopes organizers and security teams learn from the mistakes that were made.

"It was pure pandemonium and just chaos right off of the word 'go' when they said the venue is open. So I think you know, there will be an evolution, and there has been," said Ramsey.