Having Fun While Being Alert: How to Stay Safe at Concerts


Photo from CNN

Travis Scott performs in front the packed crowd in Houston.

Rachel Lichtenwalner, Editor-in-Chief

Raging mosh pits, rowdy activity, screaming and intense visual effects: this is what rapper Travis Scott’s concerts are known for. This is what fans anticipate. 

But on Nov. 5, a tragedy occurred at his Astroworld Festival in Houston that may add another label to the reputation of his performances: dangerous and deadly. 

Sadly, 10 people were killed and hundreds were injured due to a crowd surge from the rear pushing and trampling others to get as close to the stage as possible. Many survivors said they had trouble breathing and witnessed fellow concertgoers pass out due to the compression. 

The devastation at Astroworld raises an important question: while the presence of law enforcement is critical at concerts, how can one ensure their own safety at such an event? 

Milton Deputy Fire Marshal Johnny Gomez said in an email that upon entering a venue, “take the time to know and look at the auditorium and arena floors,” as well as “evacuation procedures or plans that should be posted around facilities.” 

Knowing “who the designated building staff responsible for emergencies duties are or where they are located” is vital, too, he said. 

School resource officer Xavier Wilson said the biggest piece of advice he can give is to be aware of the environment. Not only does that include surrounding individuals and their behavior but the entrances and exits, as well, “so you don’t have to [find them] when something happens,” he said. 

Always mentally map out a game plan in case of an emergency, he said. 

Wilson said he thinks Astroworld will change the future of concerts and festivals in terms of more safety and security. He watched video footage of the event and immediately saw issues. 

“One of the things that I saw is that early in the day before the concert even started on Friday, a lot of people were able to get into the venue without showing a ticket, because there was just a mass of people running in,” he said, adding that people even knocked down metal detectors. 

Security was unprepared for a situation like this, Wilson said, citing a 56-page document that was used for their training. However, nothing about handling a crowd surge was mentioned in the handbook. 

Wilson said he’s been to one “festival-type concert” outside, and people stood “shoulder-to-shoulder.” 

“It was hard to move,” he said, adding that he felt claustrophobic. 

Even recently, “I went down to The Battery for the last home game for the Braves in the World Series, and there had to be 100,000 people out there. It was so packed. It was hard to walk,” he said. 

Sophomore Bella Roveri has been to a Pitbull, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez concert. Never once did she feel uncomfortable, but she is always aware of her belongings and surroundings, she said. 

Sophomore Mia Biscotti, who attended an Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes concert, also said she hasn’t experienced any danger, but to be cautious, she tries to stay away from overpopulated areas. 

Biscotti said the incident at Astroworld concerns her for subsequent music events. 

“I just think it’s really scary, because it can happen anywhere,” she said. 

Roveri said it troubles her most for larger occasions like Music Midtown, an annual festival in Piedmont Park popular among high school and college students. 

Wilson hopes that in light of Astroworld, there will be a “bigger push for safety and security to ensure that people can go and have a good time, because that’s what we go to concerts for,” he said. 

Tips for Concert Safety:

Have a game plan in case of an emergency.

Know the floor plans.

Know the evacuation procedures.

Know where security staff are located.

Know the entrances and exits.

Always guard your belongings.

Avoid overly-crowded areas.