Over the weekend, tragedy struck at the Astroworld festival in Texas, when at least eight people died and dozens more were injured when a crowd rushed the stage during a performance by Travis Scott. Footage taken during the event revealed the chaos that took place during a surge towards the front of the stage.
We live in conspiratorial times and as news began to trickle out about the sad events that took place, amateur internet sleuths began speculating that Scott had deliberately plotted the deadly stampede as part of a Satanic “blood sacrifice.” It’s a baseless conspiracy theory, but it’s one that’s picked up a considerable amount of steam on certain corners of social media.
As proof, social media users pointed to some macabre elements of Scott’s stage show and promotional materials, including some diabolic imagery inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s “Christ In Limbo” painting. The festival’s tagline, “See You on the Other Side,” has certainly taken on a horribly dark irony in the tragedy’s wake. Others have alleged that Scott continued to perform even as fans started to pass out and call for help.
However, as Newsweek points out, the livestream of the show had several instances of Scott stopping the concert to call on people to help fans who’d passed out in the crowd. It’s not clear that Scott was aware of or able to see the full extent of the physical pressure the crowd was exerting — at one point he paused in apparent confusion — but he didn’t appear to deliberately ignore everyone who was struggling.
Entertainers from Ozzy Osbourne to Alice Cooper to Lady Gaga have used occult imagery as part of their acts over the years. It’s so commonplace it’s almost mainstream. Singling Scott’s use of it out as a sign of genuine Satanic belief is grasping for some sort of meaning in a tragedy — a villain to blame.
But there isn’t necessarily going to be any one person to blame here. Concerts can turn deadly, with or without demon-inspired props. In 2010, a similar stampede at a techno dance festival called the “Love Parade” left 21 dead. In 2000, nine people were trampled to death at a Pearl Jam concert in Denmark. And 11 people were killed during a stampede while the Who played in Cincinnati in 1979.
Many things can lead to these events, some of which are preventable. The New York Times reports that Houston’s chief of police had expressed concerns about the concert to Scott’s team, and the incident is under investigation. Scott says he is cooperating with authorities, and tweeted that “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival. Houston PD has my total support as it continues to look into the tragic loss of life.” One injured concert attendee has filed a lawsuit.
If mistakes were made, then hopefully people will be held accountable. But we’ve seen enough of these “Satanic Panics” in the past to know that this leads down a rabbit hole to nowhere. Eight people are dead, two of whom were teenagers. That’s a terrible tragedy on its own. There’s no reason to drag the devil into it.