- Natasha Simpson
The Link Between Moshing Culture and Astroworld 2021
Last Friday thousands of excited fans prepared to have a night of fun and listening to one of the most popular hip-hop artists of today. Unfortunately, the night would turn for the worse and disaster was all that they would remember. Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival became an event that many wish they did not attend leaving 9 victims dead and many more injured. At 13:00 the gates opened and by the next hour it was reported that the crowds entering the VIP security entrance were rushing in. The security entrance was damaged, and some individuals were trampled as they tried to squeeze through with the rush of people. By that evening an estimated 50,000 people filled the area, and excitement filled the air. Not before long the crowds attempted to get closer to the stage. As fans moved closer and closer to the stage there was less space to move, less air to breathe and panic began to set in for those caught in the compression. According to the Houston Police Chief Troy Finner by 21:30 people began falling. By the time the show came to an end at around 22:15 people had been trampled and suffocated, individuals were rushed to the hospital having suffered cardiac arrest and others sadly lost their lives.
Following the tragic events that took place at the Astroworld it seems appropriate to look at the culture that has emerged around hip-hop and how this may have played a role in the disaster. Hip-hop throughout the ages has been historically known as music that moves people both with its heavy beats as well as through its use as a platform to speak on important messages such as racism and classism. Hip-hop is one of the most popular music genres used for dance, the rhythm of the music brings people to dance, sway their heads and since the 1990s it has brought people to slam dance.
Slam dancing is now popularly known as moshing or mosh pitting. This is a type of dance in which people slam or push into each other usually at the front of the stage. This might sound chaotic and when looking at it from the outside it appears to be chaotic, however, moshing does have rules that the crowd generally are meant to abide by. Rules such as making sure that other people around you are okay as well as not intentionally trying to harm anyone are at the forefront of these rules. Despite these guidelines existing it seems that in instances where individuals get seriously injured these rules have been ignored often in favor of a more chaotic style of moshing. Moshing has been a staple in punk-rock music since the 1970s and began seeping into hip-hop culture during performances from artists such as Onyx. In today’s hip-hop culture artists such as Playboi Carti, Travis Scott and A$AP Rocky have contributed to incorporating punk and grunge into their hip-hop aesthetic. With this blending of punk and hip-hop came the predominance of moshing culture at hip-hop shows.
Moshing is a way for individuals to release emotions and forget about the pressures of daily life. It is a fully immersive experience, though it is not for the faint of heart. Mosh pits can get reckless if left uncontrolled and this responsibility falls on the shoulders of concert attendees, musicians, and their event managers. In the past hip-hop performers have been known to intervene in the moshing or even stop the show when the pit got out of hand. At the Astroworld festival Travis Scott reportedly paused the performance at least twice to check in on individuals in the crowd, unfortunately, with the rate at which people were going down this still did not prevent the calamity. The mosh pit became more like a sink hole as more and more people were sucked in and unable to move or breathe. In his hit song ‘STARGAZING’ Travis says “And it ain’t a mosh pit if ain’t no injuries I got ‘em stage divin’ out the nosebleeds'' these lyrics are a look into the recklessness that has often taken place at his concerts with one fan even being thrown from the elevated seating section leading to his paralysis in 2017. Travis was also arrested in 2017 for endangering the welfare of a minor and inciting a riot during a concert in Arkansas. These lyrics are now also a look into the dark reality of the Astroworld festival. At such an event where the crowd is charged up and ready to go wild perhaps focusing more on the safety of those fans and carrying the general moshing rules of looking after each other and not causing injury should be emphasized a lot more by such an influential artist.
Moving forward this event will likely be used as a warning for future hip-hop performances. There will likely be a greater emphasis on the importance of security, event planning, and enough medical staff available. It is good for a crowd to be excited to attend a concert as they should be, but this excitement shouldn’t lead to anyone being injured. It falls also on the artists to prevent such a disaster from happening by informing the crowd of safety rules and the consequences of not following them. May those whose lives were lost at Astroworld rest peacefully. It is a hope that such a tragedy does not take place again.