Astroworld Tragedy – New Updates and Insights from Brent Coon

Astroworld Tragedy – New Updates and Insights from Brent Coon

Updates and Insights on the Tragedy at the Astroworld Festival

Brent Coon, both an attorney and concert promoter, offers updates and insight into the events that led to the tragic deaths and injuries at the recent Astroworld Music Festival in Houston.

 

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Most of you have already heard about the tragedy of the Scott/Drake concert on November 5th at the Astroworld concert venue in Houston. There was very poor crowd control at an SRO event which invited a rush to the stage and ensuing bedlam.

Eight attendees were crushed to death on the scene and dozens of others taken by ambulance for a variety of injuries. Many others were left untreated and/or traumatized. In this case, the incidence of crowd rush was VERY foreseeable and is something concert promoters are supposed to take into account in contingency planning. 

Gates, fences, adequate security and other crowd control platforms, etc.  Knowledge and consideration of attendee demographics. Seating arrangements, traffic flow, forewarnings to artists and agents, pre-concert action items and meetings.

Involvement with local medical and law enforcement personal as well as detailed security briefings. Communication systems at field, gate, stage and backstage levels.

How do I know all this? Because I AM a concert producer and promoter. My company, Coondog Productions, has been promoting shows of this nature for over 2 decades at venues across the country. In addition, I am a professional performer in a band that has opened for dozens of gold and platinum artists over the years.

There were major planning failures at this event, and major execution failures.  The results were catastrophic. Live Nation was the primary producer on this show.

They have done many thousands of major events across the county and should have been much better prepared for these types of issues, particularly in light of the nature of the venue, size of the crowd, demographics of the crowd, and the historical patterns of behavior surrounding their lead artist, Travis Scott, who has a history of trying to work the crowd into a frenzy.

We are undertaking a lead role in the litigation and have filed our first lawsuits and requests for a TRO and an MDL assignment.  I am not aware of a better case to be involved in right now.

We have a great venue where we have an anchor office, there were 50,000 in attendance, and we have a very horrible list of failures clearly constituting negligence on the major parties associated to this event.

The issue of crowd compression and “stage rush” has been well known in the industry for decades. It was primarily for that reason and the risks inherent to it that most venues began steering away from SRO (standing room only) events, to assigned seating.

Injuries and even fatalities were an all too frequent occurrence, as was noted in high profile mass fatality incidents like The Who concert at Riverfront Coliseum in Ohio in 1979, which helped change how the industry arranged for major artist events in large venues with many thousands of attendees.

Same could be said of security with crowd control from lessons learned, like the Rolling Stones concert in 1969 which involved deaths in part to use of untrained security forces.

SRO events require an entirely different and higher degree of preparedness, and with the history involving Travis Scott, the invitation of a special guest like Drake, the fact that everyone was rusty in preparing for these types of events due to a 2-year shut down of such crowds and concerts due to Covid, set the stage for this type of tragedy.

Everyone involved should have been aware of that and taken the additional precautions those circumstances would mandate. They clearly didn’t.

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