Concert surges, fires and shootings: Before Astroworld Festival, these disasters hit music venues
An apparent crowd surge at the Astroworld music festival in Houston Friday night where rapper Travis Scott performed has left at least eight people dead and many injured.
What officials called a "mass casualty" incident is just the most recent concert tragedy. Perhaps the most well-known fatal concert surge involved 11 people who died when they were crushed against the arena doors before a concert by The Who in Cincinnati in 1979.
In that incident, thousands of fans had gathered by 3 p.m. for the sold-out show – most tickets were general admission – and about 7 p.m. when the band did a soundcheck, people began pressing towards the doors. Minutes later, a person smashed through a closed glass door, Time reported, and as the doors opened concertgoers stampeded, suffocating and trampling some in the crowd.
The band was not told about the deaths and The Who performed. But at the next day's concert in Buffalo, New York, singer Roger Daltrey said, "We lost a lot of family last night. This show's for them."
What is Astroworld?:What we know about the 'mass casualty incident' at Travis Scott's festival
Other notorious concert calamities
►Altamont Free Concert (Dec. 6, 1969). In an event chronicled in the 1970 documentary "Gimme Shelter," one attendee in a crowd of 300,000 named Meredith Hunter, aged 18, was killed by the Hell's Angels, which provided security for the concert by the Rolling Stones, Santana and other acts.
During the Stones' set as people pushed forward, Mick Jagger asked the crowd, "Just keep cool down in front and don't push around." Documentary footage showed Hunter getting close to the stage, pulling out a gun and, subsequently getting stabbed. The Hell's Angel accused said he was acting in self-defense and was found not guilty in the incident, as Rolling Stone reported at the time.
►Beverly Hills Supper Club disaster (May 28, 1977). One hundred and sixty-five people died and more than 200 were injured in a fire that broke out in the popular – and overcrowded – club in Southgate, Kentucky on a Memorial Day. Singer John Davidson was about to perform, but a fire spread and exits were bottlenecked with people, and many were overcome by smoke and toxic fumes, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
►Roskilde music festival (June 30, 2000). Nine fans were trampled to death in a mosh pit during Pearl Jam's performance at the four-day festival in Denmark. Lead singer Eddie Vedder, when notified by the band's manager, asked the crowd to step back, Rolling Stone reported.
Eight died from asphyxiation; the ninth died at a hospital later from chest injuries. Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who had experience in crowd fatalities, telephoned Vedder the next day to console him. Twenty years later, the band continued to express its grief at the death of those fans, remembering when an "unexpected moment intervened that forever changed all involved."
►E2 nightclub fire (Feb. 17, 2003). Twenty-one were crushed to death in a narrow stairwell leading to the exit at E2, a second-floor nightclub in Chicago, after a security guard used pepper spray to break up a dance-floor fight. The club had been ordered to close months earlier for building and fire code violations, USA TODAY reported.
►The Station nightclub fire (Feb. 20, 2003). One hundred died and more than 200 were injured in a fire, which broke out when pyrotechnics for the rock band Great White ignited flammable packing foam installed as soundproofing at the West Warwick, Rhode Island club. The club's owners and the band's tour manager pleaded guilty to misdemeanor manslaughter. Band manager Daniel Biechele and club co-owner Michael Derderian went to prison, CBS News reported.
►Damageplan shooting in Columbus, Ohio (Dec. 8, 2004). A music fan reportedly upset at the breakup of rock band Pantera got onstage at the Alrosa Villa nightclub and shot former Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and three other people during a show by Abbott's new band Damageplan. The shooter, Nathan Gale, 25, was killed by a police officer minutes later, Rolling Stone reported.
►Mawazine music festival (May 24, 2009). Eleven concertgoers were killed and 30 more injured in a stampede at this world music festival at the Hay Nahda stadium in Rabat, Morocco, where Moroccan singer Abdelaziz Stati performed a free concert. As spectators left, they knocked over a wire fence, crushing some in the crowd.
►Love Parade disaster (July 24, 2010). A stampede inside a tunnel at this techno-music festival in Germany resulted in 21 deaths and more than 500 injuries. The deaths occurred at the tunnel underpass entry point going to the event, expected to draw as many as 1.4 million. Festivalgoers reportedly attempting to avoid the surging crowd climbed a stairway in front of the tunnel, then fell into the crowd and were trampled or crushed. It was the last time the event in Duisburg, near Duesseldorf, was held.
►Indiana State Fair stage rigging collapse (Aug. 13, 2011). Seven died and 58 were injured when wind gusts of 60 mph to 70 mph caused the outdoor music stage's rigging to collapse. Fans were awaiting a performance by the band Sugarland at the Indianapolis venue at the Indiana State Fair when it collapsed in a sudden, violent thunderstorm.
“Someone goes to a concert and they never come back,” Christy BigJohny told The Indianapolis Star ten years after the incident. Her sister, Alina, was killed at the age of 23. ”That pain doesn’t go away, it just becomes the new normal.”
►Kiss nightclub fire in Brazil (Jan. 27, 2013). A fire killed more than 200 people at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, when the band Gurizada Fandangueira accidentally ignited acoustic foam on the ceiling with its pyrotechnic show. More than 2,000 people were inside when the fire broke out, double the club's capacity.
►Terror attack at the Bataclan theater in Paris (Nov. 13, 2015). Several gunmen entered the theater in central Paris and killed 90 in a crowd of 1,500 attending a concert by California rock band the Eagles of Death Metal. It was one incident among several terrorist attacks that day in the city, which ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) claimed responsibility for and left 130 dead and hundreds injured. The gunmen shot into the Bataclan crowd and took them hostage. When security forces attempted a rescue, one of the gunmen was shot and the other two killed themselves using explosives on their belts.
►Manchester Arena suicide bombing (May 22, 2017). A terrorist attack killed 23 people and injured more than 1,000 in a crowd departing an Ariana Grande concert at the U.K. venue in Manchester. Grande, who was not injured, was just finishing her performance when the explosions happened. Soon after the incident, she tweeted: "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so sorry. i don't have words."
Eleven days later, Grande performed at a benefit for victims at the Old Trafford cricket stadium, just under four miles from Manchester Arena. It was broadcast live on BBC radio and television and streamed around the world.
►Route 91 Harvest Music Festival (Oct. 1 2017). In the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, 60 were killed and hundreds injured after a shooter opened fire at concertgoers from a room in the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Country singer Jason Aldean was on stage when bullets began to spray the crowd of about 22,000.
Jake Owen, who had performed earlier on the last day of the three-day festival, was standing to the side of the stage watching. "The scene was like watching 'a bad movie,' he later told ABC News. "Standing there, you could hear the bullets starting to hit the roof of the stage, and people started fleeing everywhere."
MGM Resorts International, which owns the hotel, reached an $800 million settlement with the victims and families in December 2019.
Contributing: The Associated Press and Kim Willis, USA TODAY