Congress launches probe into Live Nation’s deadly Astroworld festival
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform asked Michael Rapino (chief executive of concert promotion company Live Nation) for information about the November crowd-crush incident at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston.

In a letter sent Wednesday, New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, along with ranking committee member James Comer and members of Congress Kevin Brady, Al Green and Bill Pascrell Jr., questioned Rapino about the Nov. 5 incident that killed 10 concertgoers, including a 9-year-old boy, and injured hundreds.

“Recent reports raise serious concerns about whether your company took adequate steps to ensure the safety of the 50,000 concertgoers who attended Astroworld Festival,” the letter says. Reports show that security personnel and medical staff are not experienced or equipped to handle mass injuries. Some people claimed that it was difficult to escape from the barricades. Experts have stated that Astroworld Festival organizers failed to heed warning signs.”

Rep. Al Green, who represents a southwest Houston district, said that he’s seen the trauma of Astroworld firsthand in his community.

“People still suffer in Houston. Green stated that he attended a home-going celebration for a high school student who was killed at Astroworld. It was heartbreaking to witness the young woman’s life. This level of suffering must be addressed. We can’t get the facts without knowing. Then we can get a sense of redress but also what policies need to be developed to prevent it from happening in any place.”

The committee asked Rapino to respond to questions regarding timelines for the disaster, security assessments, the on-site response and reports that Live Nation withheld pay from employees until they signed contracts releasing the company from liability, among other issues.

A makeshift memorial of flowers and handwritten signs.

A makeshift memorial outside Houston’s NRG Park on Nov. 7, 2021.

(Alex Bierens de Haan / Getty Images)

In a statement to The Times, a representative for Live Nation wrote, “We are assisting local authorities in their investigation and will of course share information with the Committee as well. Live events are safe. Live Nation coordinates with local stakeholders to ensure safety. We are heartbroken by the events at Astroworld and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the victims.”

The committee also cited other disasters at Live Nation-produced concerts, including a 2011 incident in Indiana where a stage collapse killed seven and injured 61. The letter asked Rapino to respond to the inquiry by Jan. 7, and sought a briefing with Rapino by Jan. 12. There are hundreds of lawsuits arising from the disaster, claiming billions of dollars in damages. There is still the possibility of criminal charges being brought against Scott, Live Nation, and others.

“The tragic event at Astroworld Festival is the latest in a series of tragedies and safety violations that have occurred with Live Nation,” the committee stated in a letter. “We are deeply saddened by the deaths that occurred at Astroworld Festival and are committed to investigating what went wrong to inform possible reforms that could prevent future tragedies.”

On Saturday, rapper Drakeo the Ruler was fatally stabbed at the Live Nation-produced Once Upon a Time in L.A. festival, at the Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park. Some eyewitnesses have questioned the effectiveness of event security in the wake of the backstage attack.

Rep. Green stated that he hopes the inquiry would investigate Astroworld as well as other concert tragedies. Prayers and thoughts are not enough. Ten people were killed, 300 people were wounded, there are 200 lawsuits,” Green said. Green stated that there must be accountability and Live Nation should provide an explanation of what happened. Which responsibilities did they have for security, crowd control, emergency communications, and medical care? I don’t know where this investigation will end, but Live Nation is a good place to start.”

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