A new report from a Texas state task force suggests that a muddled event permitting process and a lack of security training and communication among staff and law enforcement officials could have contributed to the crowd rush that killed 10 people at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston in November.
The Texas Task Force on Concert Safety’s report, published on Tuesday, outlined several recommendations based on shortcomings identified at Astroworld. Most notably, the report recommend officials across Texas to develop a consistent permitting process across the state for live events to establish clearer preparation protocols and ensure a clearer chain of “jurisdiction and authority over ultimate event shutdown in the face of a life-threatening incident.” A more universal permitting system would mean all venues in the state would follow the same set of regulations and discourage promoters from “forum shopping” to find event sites that will allow for more lax rules, the report said.
Astroworld was a county-sanctioned event, but it took place within Houston’s city limits, and the local fire department would be responsible for establishing crowd capacities. Astroworld wasn’t required to have an occupancy permit for the event.
The task force called for concert promoters to provide detailed plans prior to events and list specific emergency scenarios that should lead to a show being canceled or paused. These “triggers” should be codified in the permit applications, the task force said. It also recommended a more unified command system that would allow for better communication between the festival and first responders in the event of an emergency.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott formed the task force five days after the Astroworld tragedy to analyze the event and provide recommendations for future live events. It was composed of music industry representatives, law enforcement officials and event safety experts. Among those listed as participants were the Event Safety Alliance — a well-known industry group that supplies safety guidance resources for events including music festivals — and Austin music and cultural festival South by Southwest. Also on the list was C3 Presents, the festival promoter for Austin City Limits and a subsidiary of Live Nation. Live Nation, which also has a majority stake in Astroworld festival promoter Scoremore, is named in most of the lawsuits filed since the tragedy.
The task force also highlighted the need for proper training for event security and staff, another often-criticized aspect of the November disaster. As Rolling Stone previously reported, numerous security guards have come forward noting they received little to no training before Astroworld and felt ill-equipped to handle the tasks they were assigned. Samuel and Jackson Bush, who both worked the event as security guards, sued after Astroworld citing injuries and lack of training.
The report didn’t name Scott specifically in its findings, but it did note that event organizers must take into account how performers may interact with their fans at shows, and how that affects how the crowds act.
“Some artists have a documented history of encouraging attendees to disregard public safety,” the report said. “When an artist does this, it could be considered a breach of contract and come with responsibility for any damage to property and people. Event promoters should partner with artists to encourage safety, since messaging from the artist can be uniquely persuasive for fans.
Scott has been named in a majority of the lawsuits following the event as well, though he has denied any responsibility over the tragedy multiple times.