Rapper Drake has made his first public statement about rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival on November 5. Drake took to social media and wrote: “I’ve spent the past few days trying to wrap my head around this devastating tragedy… My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone suffering.”
According to a report from Variety Drake appeared as a surprise guest during Travis Scott’s headlining set, joining him onstage for two tracks, including their 2018 hit Sicko Mode. As the sequence of events that led to the mass casualty panic of Friday night is revealed, Drake has received a fair share of criticism for going on with the show. As he took the stage towards the end of the set, emergency medical personnel were reportedly responding to multiple cases of cardiac arrest, likely from the surge of the crowd as they made their way towards the stage for Scott’s and Drake’s performance.
The concert drew 50,000 people to Houston’s NRG Park, where performers included SZA, Lil Baby and Roddy Ricch, among others, but while billed as a two stage event, Astroworld veered from the usual festival protocol of staggering performances on opposite stages, as Scott was the only headliner.
According to a previous report from Variety, the combination of Scott’s chosen set time and a countdown clock may have contributed to the frenzy and confusion as throngs of fans eager to catch his set ran from one end of the grounds to another.
Scott’s stage banter, encouraging all in attendance to rage and make the ground shake, along with the Drake cameo, seemingly amplified the already energized crowd to the point where people were being shoved, trampled and otherwise injured. The fateful decision, however, was in having Scott scheduled to go on 45 minutes after SZA’s performance wrapped, as opposed to overlapping slightly with her set or even beginning just as it ended at 8 p.m.
It’s what live music professionals call spreading the field, and it’s a key facet of crowd control at a large-scale event like a music festival.