Ken Hoffman on why it may be time to end Travis Scott live shows in Houston
There will be more than enough blame to go around for the tragedy that happened Friday, November 5 at NRG Park — eight dead and scores more injured at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston.
As CultureMap reported, lawsuits already have been filed with plenty more expected, pointing fingers scattershot at Scott, the promoter, organizers, security company, and the NRG venue.
At the top of the list — even before lawyer Tony Buzbee, acting like a small town ambulance chaser asking potential clients to contact him — deposes his first ice cream vendor, is the person in charge who agreed to host the event. When the dust settles, there will be one person who gave the final go-ahead for the Astroworld fest.
The one person who failed to stop the show before people started dying.
It should be clear – there were many warning signs and missed opportunities to avoid this tragedy. Social media was filled with posts that fans could crash the gate.
There were instructions on where security would be lax and fans could overwhelm barricades.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner visited Scott’s dressing room to express concern over security issues, telling Scott that the crowd seemed chaotic.
Three years ago, hundreds of fans broke through barricades at the first Astroworld event, sending some fans to the hospital. Houston Police warned that the festival didn’t have enough security, tweeting “promoters did not plan sufficiently for the large crowds.” The tweet was later deleted.
It was a similar scene November 5. When the main gate opened, fans rushed the grounds breaking down metal detectors. The crowd was announced at 50,000 people. But because of gate crashers, nobody can say for sure how many people were on NRG Park grounds that night.
Because metal detectors were destroyed, nobody knows for sure if weapons were on NRG Park grounds that night. There is no official limit on attendance at outdoor events in Houston.
There are reports that one fan stuck a security guard with a syringe that caused the guard to lose consciousness. When the first metal detector was knocked over, that’s when the concert should have been canceled.
There were security problems in 2018. There were more problems in 2019. At what point do officials say this event isn’t safe for fans? Nobody expects to buy a ticket for a concert and be trampled by an out-of-control crowd spurred on by the headline singer.
No parent should have to arrange a funeral for their 14-year-old son because he went to a concert at a public facility where the hometown NFL team plays and where the Houston Livestock Show is held.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20. It is easy look back and place blame. So many mistakes were made, so many signs ignored.
Maybe it’s time for Houston to say no more to Travis Scott. While he is beloved by his fans and admired as a homegrown success, he has been arrested two times for inciting hysterical mob behavior at his concerts.
He has urged fans to jump from balconies, to storm the stage, to ignore security guards. “There’s more of you than them,” he’s told fans.
Then there is the matter of security. An official at another concert venue told me that it’s difficult to hire off duty police officers to work security in 2021. The Houston Police Department is down personnel, with more experienced officers retiring than the department can hire qualified rookie replacements.
Response time to 911 calls is nearly an hour now in Houston, 19 minutes longer than three years ago.
Eight people dead at a concert should never happen. Eight lives lost shouldn’t have happened in Houston last weekend.
The Toy Hall of Fame has announced three inductees for its Class of 2021: American Girl Dolls, the board game Risk, and Sand. I get American Girl Dolls, and I used to play Risk. Clinching the nod for Risk, it’s featured in an episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman vie for world domination.
I am not happy with Sand, however. I think the Toy Hall of Fame picked Sand just to stir conversation and gain clickbait. How can Sand be Hall of Fame material when so many complain about it “getting in everywhere,” yell at you for bringing it into the house, and beaches have showers to get rid of it before people can rejoin proper society?
A better pick: Dogs. Nothing in world history has produced more laughter and pure joy than playing with a dog. Most toys last a year or two, a dog will love you its whole life and its memory will make you smile forever.
Ted Cruz vs Big Bird
Last week, Big Bird, mind you a puppet, made a video explaining to children how getting a COVID-19 vaccine, which has been proved to be safe and effective, will keep them and others healthy. Naturally our Senator Ted Cruz was greatly offended by this outrageous and sinister message and accused Big Bird, mind you a puppet, of “government propaganda … for your 5-year-old.”
This is gonna be good, two birdbrains going at it.
Done with Rodgers
I used to be a big fan of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Now I think he’s a dangerous liar, taking unapproved medicines to “immunize” him from COVID and seeking medical advice from Joe Rogan, a hack comic with a podcast. I was scheduled to get my annual flu shot next week, but I canceled pending approval from Carrot Top.
Ready to rumble?
Tickets for WrestleMania 38, scheduled for the weekend of April 2-3, 2022 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas (Arlington), go on sale 10 am Friday November 12 at seatgeek.com. You can buy tickets for one night or both, also travel packages including special events and meet-and-greet sessions with WWE superstars.
Last time Mania was in North Texas, 101,763 fans packed Jerry World in 2016, setting WWE’s all-time attendance mark.
Get ready for Nutcracker
It’s that time of the year: the 40th Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market opens Thursday and runs through Sunday at NRG Center. More than 250 vendors, including 50 new merchants, will be there selling apparel, accessories, jewelry, gourmet food, home and holiday décor, toys, kitchenware and gifts. The Nutcracker Market has contributed $73 million to the Houston Ballet Foundation. For tickets, times, vendors, and more information, visit nutcrackermarket.com.