Astroworld tragedy: House committee questions concert promoter

Washington DC – The US House Committee on Oversight and Reform has asked Michael Rapino, chief executive of concert promotion giant Live Nation, for information regarding November’s crowd-crush disaster at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston.

Travis Scott has faced numerous lawsuits over the tragedy at his Astroworld music festival.
Travis Scott has faced numerous lawsuits over the tragedy at his Astroworld music festival.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

In a letter sent Wednesday, New York Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, along with committee members James Comer, Kevin Brady, Al Green, and Bill Pascrell Jr., questioned Rapino about the November 5 incident that killed 10 concertgoers, including a nine-year-old boy, and injured hundreds.

"Recent reports raise serious concerns about whether your company took adequate steps to ensure the safety of the 50,000 concertgoers who attended Astroworld Festival," the letter says.

"Reports indicate that security and medical staff were inexperienced or ill-equipped to deal with mass injuries. Some attendees stated that the placement of barricades made it difficult to escape. Experts have stated that Astroworld Festival organizers failed to heed warning signs."

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The committee asked Rapino to respond to questions regarding timelines for the disaster, security assessments, the on-site response, and reports that Live Nation withheld pay from employees until they signed contracts releasing the company from liability, among other issues.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, a representative for Live Nation wrote: "We are assisting local authorities in their investigation and will of course share information with the Committee as well. Safety is core to live events and Live Nation engages in detailed security planning in coordination with local stakeholders including law enforcement, fire and EMT professionals."

"We are heartbroken by the events at Astroworld and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the victims."

House committee cites history of disasters at Live Nation events

Candles, flowers, and letters are placed at a memorial outside Houston's NRG Park.
Candles, flowers, and letters are placed at a memorial outside Houston's NRG Park.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The committee also cited other disasters at Live Nation-produced concerts, including a 2011 incident in Indiana where a stage collapse killed seven and injured 61.

The letter asked Rapino to respond to the inquiry by January 7, and sought a briefing with Rapino by January 12.

Lawsuits stemming from the disaster now tally hundreds of plaintiffs seeking billions in damages. Criminal charges against Scott, Live Nation, and others are still a possibility.

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"The tragedy at Astroworld Festival follows a long line of other tragic events and safety violations involving Live Nation," the committee wrote in its letter.

"We are deeply saddened by the deaths that occurred at Astroworld Festival and are committed to investigating what went wrong to inform possible reforms that could prevent future tragedies."

On Saturday, rapper Drakeo the Ruler was fatally stabbed at the Live Nation-produced Once Upon a Time in LA festival, at the Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park.

Some eyewitnesses have questioned the effectiveness of event security in the wake of the backstage attack.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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