Tragedy at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival

by The Cowl Editor on November 18, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Tragedy at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival

How a Night of Fun Turned Into One of Terror

Nikki Idelson ’22

On Nov. 5, Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert quickly turned from fun to tragedy. The crowd pushed towards the stage as a rowdy mosh pit, leaving hundreds injured and a few dead.

Scott, a native of Houston, TX, has become one of the most popular artists in recent years. He is most well-known for his hit album, Astroworld, which was released in 2018. The Wall Street Journal notes that Scott “has a history of encouraging raucous behavior at shows.” His incitement of such behavior was no different at his Nov. 5 concert. 

In a now-deleted Tweet, prior to the beginning of this performance, Scott wrote, “we still sneaking the wild ones. !!!!!” This Tweet encouraged thousands of people to storm the concert venue, which lacked proper security, and to easily gain entry without tickets. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, the deadly surge of the crowd began at approximately 9:38 P.M. People began to rush toward the stage, with many concertgoers falling and being trampled over. At this time, the crowd was estimated to have grown to about 50,000 individuals.

A few hundred people were taken to the hospital to be treated. NPR reports that nine people have died so far, with several others still in the hospital. Those who lost their lives ranged from 14 to 27 years old. The fact that all of the individuals who died were fairly young is devastating.

Many blame Scott himself for the tragedy, accusing him of encouraging the reckless behavior that resulted in injury and loss of life. According to The Wall Street Journal, prior to the concert, Houston’s police chief “said that he had asked Mr. Scott’s team to work with the police and watch their social media messaging.” Evidently, with Scott encouraging fans to sneak into the concert and storm up to the front of the stage, this did not occur.

Scott has also been blamed by many for not stopping the concert when he became aware that people were becoming injured. Although, as The Wall Street Journal reports, “he paused the show on multiple occasions when he thought someone in the crowd was in distress, moves they say pointed out the issues to security.” Some believe that Scott should have ended the show when he realized that several people were being injured; however, as The Wall Street Journal explains, city officials “didn’t want to end the show immediately out of concern that such a move could spark a riot among Mr. Scott’s young, boisterous fans.” 

Scott has since stated that he was unaware of what was happening at first, which is why he continued with his performance. However, some have found this hard to believe as it was difficult not to see the surge in the crowd as people rushed towards the front of the stage. Scott released an apology video in which he said that his team will be working closely with the Houston police and fire departments to figure out exactly what occurred, as the question remains as to whether there was another factor, such as drugs laced with fentanyl being spread among fans, that contributed to the tragedy. 

Across the nation, thoughts and prayers are going out to all of the families that lost loved ones.

A Spooky Good Time

by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

A Spooky Good Time

Local “Moon Raid” Festival Provides Halloween Entertainment

Jack Downey ’23

Obviously, there were quite a few events happening this Halloween. Not only were there fewer COVID-19 restrictions than last year, but the weather was also immaculate despite all the terrible weather in the past week, with the sun bursting forth from the sky. It could only be described as peak fall. Under the smiling sun and the falling leaves, a music festival took place in a backyard in Wakefield, RI. It was called Moon Raid, and it was legendary.

Even before the show itself began, the staggering array of groups associated with it turned heads: there were twelve bands and nine vendors present at the festival, which, for a local show, was astounding and unprecedented. Set construction began at 1:00 p.m. and the stage came together quickly, with the setup of gear being completed efficiently and conveniently. 

Leading off the event was Wave Goodbye. Building the sound of a full band using nothing but a guitar and a loop effect pedal, Wave Goodbye’s set received a warm reaction and helped draw in the audience. Following Wave Goodbye was Rather Nice, who recently released a new EP, Diane’s Van. Playing all the songs off that EP and more, the funky indie rock band had people dancing along to their mellow tunes. 

After Rather Nice was Fort Revere, a fairly new indie rock/surf rock band based out of Providence. While their sound was sparse, the songs were catchy and had some people singing along. Occasionally, the band would turn up the distortion, keeping things interesting. However, their distortion had nothing on The Gotham Lights, who were up next. Despite only having two members, their sound was enormous and blew people away, almost literally. Lead singer Jake Draven’s howling vocals only added to the wall of leaden noise that filled the entire backyard for the duration of their set. 

Continuing the wall of furious sound was Bozo Brain. Another two-piece band, this group was a female duo and their sound was more based around hardcore and metal. The crowd truly came alive during this set, moshing furiously to the distorted bass and pounding drums. At one point during their performance, the two members switched instruments to showcase their dexterity and indeed continued to bring the power. Considering this was their first show, it was rather impressive. 

With the energy of the audience mostly spent after Bozo Brain finished their set, Harrison Dolan provided some soothing, if not incredibly melancholy, relief. Despite being another one-man act using a loop pedal, Harrison’s music was jazzier than that of Wave Goodbye and featured far more guitar effects. His soft voice carried with it an undercurrent of sincerity that drew many people to his music. Multiple people commented afterwards about how they had become emotional during his set and, as if Rhode Island was responding to this shift in mood, there had been several sirens audible during Harrison’s set, creating a strangely alluring ambience.

After this brief lull in the energy, Bellyache came in screaming, literally. Not much was known about this band prior to the show, since they have no social media presence and have not played many shows. However, they blew people away with their talent. They had an interesting mix of hardcore and indie rock, with the hardcore songs featuring a singer and the indie songs being instrumental. Whichever sound they choose to play in the future, Bellyache are an intriguing band.

Cameleopard was next in the lineup. Echoing some of the blusier aspects of The Gotham Lights’ set, the crowd was immediately captivated by the group’s melodic yet crunchy guitar, flowing bass, and impressive drumming. The band functioned like a fine-tuned machine; they had people moving and grooving to their tightly-wound style of rock. 

This rock sound continued with the following act, Depopulate Montana. While their sound was straightforward, their songs were interesting and captured the audience. The sound had many elements of nineties indie rock as well as those of earlier rock icons such as Bruce Springsteen, with some punk rock thrown into the mix. Their set ended as the sun fully disappeared beneath the horizon.

Although the sun had departed, the show went on. The Park Hill Romance took the stage and ripped through several beloved covers, such as Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” and Green Day’s “Holiday.” Their fans ate it up, dancing and singing along, illuminated by the car headlights which were being used to light the stage. After them were Alligators On Acid, who delivered a gloriously ramshackle punk performance that included bassist Luke Kelley throwing his bass aside and running into the crowd, starting a tidal wave of a mosh pit that resulted in him getting punched in the face. Considering this might be their last show for some time, they went out with style. Last but not least were The Moon Rakers, who hosted the entire event. The band’s sound was remarkably minimal in the most interesting of ways, and many people seemed to be drawn in by the dry guitar sound and the unorthodox drum beats. It was a fantastic way to end such an insane concert.

All the above acts sans Bellyache have Instagram accounts and deserve attention, so give them a follow.

A Change of Scenery for the 2021 Governors Ball

by The Cowl Editor on October 7, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

A Change of Scenery for the 2021 Governors Ball

The Iconic Music Festival Celebrates Its 10th Birthday at a New Venue

Riley Coyne ’24

The Governors Ball is back and better than ever for its 10th anniversary. In previous years, the three-day music festival took place on Randall’s Island in New York. However, this year, it was held at Citi Field. Despite fans’ excitement to see their idols perform live, they could not help but wonder: why the change of venue? 

It seems as if the organizers knew that there would be questions regarding their decision to change the location when they decided to make the switch. The GovBallNYC YouTube channel posted a video titled “New Venue, New Experience” to explain why Citi Field would make for a great live music experience. Organizers also published a lighthearted statement on their website: “Besides, you’re not a real New Yorker if you haven’t moved a couple times ammiright?”

Despite the jokes, one of the major reasons for the location switch-up is because Citi Field is much more accessible via public transportation. The subway and Long Island Railroad stop right outside of the stadium, and it is only a 14-minute ride from Penn Station. When the festival was held at Randall’s Island, the only way to get there was by ferry, car, or bus. Public transportation makes it much easier if there are any emergencies or weather complications, like that of 2019, when unexpected thunderstorms led to an immediate evacuation of Gov Ball and festival-goers scrambled to find a way to get home. 

One of the most notable changes in the festival in its new location is that the stages were set up in a 360-degree layout to prevent sound bleeds from occurring. Attendees also had to show either proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to be admitted into the venue. Organizers certainly took safety protocol very seriously this year, especially after having to cancel the event last year due to the pandemic, to make sure everyone could have an enjoyable and safe experience.

Despite the change of venue, the 2021 Gov Ball experience was just as much of a hit as the event has been in past years. The iconic New York festival encompasses music, art, and food all in one. 

The art itself at Gov Ball is enough to motivate people to purchase tickets. The colorful signs, décor, and even the outfits were totally Instagram-worthy. 

 Gov Ball is also well-known for the delicacies that the food and beverage vendors have to offer. Milk & Cream Cereal Bar, Big Mozz, and Sweet Chick are just a few of the delicious options to choose from at the festival.

These are all part of the experience of Gov Ball, but most attendees come to see live performances from their favorite artists. This year’s headliners included Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone, and many other talented artists. 

Notably, well-known rapper DaBaby was supposed to perform but was dropped from his record label for making homophobic comments about HIV and AIDS on his Twitter account. As a result, he was removed from the Gov Ball lineup as well as that of Lollapalooza, another major music festival. 

While fans of DaBaby were certainly disappointed, those of A$AP Rocky and Rihanna likely felt the complete opposite. Rumors of the pair dating have been swirling around the media for quite some time now. Their relationship was officially confirmed, however, when he referred to her as “the love of my life,” in a recent interview with GQ. To the delight of many Gov Ball attendees, sources speculate that Rihanna was present at the festival when A$AP Rocky winked at someone backstage during his performance of his song “L$D.”

One of the most memorable moments of the festival was when 24kGoldn came out onto the stage and performed his hit single “Mood” featuring Iann Dior.

It was one of the final guests at the Friday night section of the festival, Billie Eilish, who gave the most memorable performance. Eilish recently released a new album, Happier Than Ever, and fans were eager to see some of the new songs live for the first time. When she sang the title track of the album, the audience screamed along with her on the iconic lyrics, “Cuz I’d never treat me this s****y / You made me hate this city.” Eilish’s powerful show, as well as the amazing performances from her fellow musical artists, made the 2021 Gov Ball one to remember.