Mahogany Browne is a poet, writer, organizer and educator. Recently, she became the first-ever poet-in-residence at the Lincoln Center in…
Houston music reporter's eyewitness account of concert tragedy and investigation
Hari Sreenivasan: For more on what happened and the ongoing investigation, I spoke with Houston Chronicle music critic and reporter Joey Guerra who was at the Astroworld concert on Friday.
Joey, you've been writing and reporting about this all weekend. I think we are a little now aware of what happened, but I think the question everyone has is how did this happen? You were there.
Joey Guerra: I think that's the big question. I mean, there are so many questions I think surrounding this. There have been, you know, there have been rumors that there were drugs involved. You know, obviously, I think the initial speculation was that people were just trampled because there was so much of a crowd. But it's just I think there are so many questions still. Obviously, I think there were some issues with crowding and people pushing and crowd surges and things like that. But I think there might be more to this than just that.
Hari Sreenivasan: Give us a sense of what this space is like where all these people were.
Joey Guerra: Well, the space where this is at is kind of adjacent to the big stadium here in town, so it's a huge kind of area with parking lots and grass. They had to stage a setup that was very well spaced. There was lots of space in between. Carnival, midway games, things like that. The area in front of this stage has a lot of grass, a lot of concrete. I know people hear these numbers and think, how did they not know this was going to happen? But I think anybody who's been to a festival knows, you know, they kind of know the area. They prepare for something like this. I mean, yes, there were a lot of people in the front where Travis was performing. But if you were out of that immediate area, there was lots of people walking around. People were in line getting food. I mean, there was lots of action still happening right behind. I mean, it wasn't like every single person there was packed in, so.
Hari Sreenivasan: Tell us a little bit about what is the average Travis Scott concert like for someone who hasn't attended? I mean, in your reporting, you describe a kind of energy there. Tell me about that.
Joey Guerra: Yeah, I mean, I think that's really important to understand is that if you've never been to a Travis Scott show, I mean, the energy kind of exchange between him and the crowd is it's like nothing I've ever seen. I mean, I think the closest comparison is maybe like a boy band concert when you have people crying and kind of uncontrollable, that's kind of the energy here. I mean, he calls his fans ragers and, you know, there are mosh pits. And it's interesting because I think the average Travis Scott band is probably a male from 16 to 21 years old, which we saw at this concert. I mean, it's lots of males, so there's lots of kind of pent-up energy and, you know, it can kind of spill into aggression at some point.
Hari Sreenivasan: You've been watching closely a lot of the videos that have come out of the event itself. What were you able to learn from some of the videos that fans were sharing around the moments that it was happening?
Joey Guerra: I think for me, honestly and probably a lot of people that weren't in that mix, it was just really shocking to see what was happening. I mean, I was, you know, outside on the ground, but I was further back. So me and everyone around me had no clue what was going on. We saw, of course, we saw emergency vehicles coming in and things like that. We knew he stopped the show, but it felt like kind of normal festival happenings. You know, things happen and people get, you know, people get sick or need help. So it wasn't until after when you're leaving and you're checking social media, you see these videos of people performing CPR, being carted away unconscious, you know, people just clamoring to get out. It was just honestly, really shocking if you weren't in there to really understand that all this was going on.
Hari Sreenivasan: Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle. Thanks so much.
Joey Guerra: Thank you.