In the wake of the heart-shattering events that transpired on Nov. 5 at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston, the world is still coming to terms with the appalling conditions of the festival. The 2021 Astroworld Festival is now remembered as a night of pure horror, which ended with at least 10 deaths and over 300 concertgoers badly injured due to crowd surges. One of the attendees, Ezra Blount, tragically lost his life at only 9 years old. This led to the implementation of new 18 and older age restrictions by the music festival Rolling Loud. The music festival made this change just one month prior to its December run in California.
For those unfamiliar with Rolling Loud, it’s the world’s largest hip-hop festival, first starting in 2015. The festival tours throughout the United States, bringing music to major cities such as Miami, Queens and Los Angeles. The Rolling Loud Festival presents some of the biggest names in the hip-hop and R&B music industry, including A$AP Rocky, Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Uzi Vert, to name a few.
On Nov. 22, Rolling Loud released a statement on their Twitter account regarding the upcoming Dec. 10-12 festival dates. It said, “We want everyone to rage safely. Here’s an important update for all our fans under 18 for Rolling Loud California. We welcome everyone to experience our festivals. However, in light of recent events, we will be implementing an 18+ policy specific only to our upcoming 2021 California festival. We will be giving all ticket purchasers who are under the age of 18 the option to either roll their tickets over to next year’s 2022 California festival or receive a refund.”
Love ya’ll – we want everyone to rage safely. Here’s an important update for all our fans who are under 18 for RL California. pic.twitter.com/9iwjYEmS6p
— Rolling Loud (@RollingLoud) November 23, 2021
This new regulation garnered mixed reactions online from fans. One Twitter user questioned the festival’s choice to only implement the new age restriction for the upcoming California dates: “What’s the point of having this rule one year? Make it permanent or are you just kicking the can down the road?”
Another user expressed agitation toward the festival’s late release of the new guidelines: “Wow you guys really like ruining things for people weeks before the event is going to start. If you are young around 13-14 this makes sense but to all the people who are 16-17 or literally just months away from being 18 this is a slap in the face.”
However, many users praised Rolling Loud for this implementation, suggesting that “All festivals should have been like this already. No reason for little kids to be in that kind of environment honestly.”
all festivals should have been like this already. no reason for little kids to be in that kind of environment honestly
— lil scrap (PHILLY) (@lilS1600) November 24, 2021
Rolling Loud previously permitted festival-goers of all ages, so this came as a shock to many. However, taking into account that the Astroworld Festival tragedy led to the passing of two other minors John Hilgert (14) and Brianna Rodriguez (16) — and the fact that Rolling Loud is promoted by Live Nation, the same entertainment company that promoted Scott’s festival — this appears to be Rolling Loud’s way of trying to make changes.
Despite the backlash from those under the age of 18 and the ones who think this should have been implemented from the start, this age restriction could be a step in the right direction for Rolling Loud and many other music festivals like it.
However, age cannot be the only factor taken into account, and it was not the only factor that led to the lethal events that unfolded on Nov. 5 in Houston. The lack of qualified security guards was a huge catalyst. One security guard who was planning to work the event quit the morning of due to safety concerns. He talked to TMZ, noting that the job instructions were “very brief” and “vague.” He also touched upon the extreme understaffing of the security detail, recalling that there was about “1 security guard per every 500 to 1000 concert attendees.”
Many cell phone videos taken by those present at this devastating event circulated on many different social media platforms and revealed the pure chaos that ensued. Social media videos depicted security guards praying for their lives out of fear before the festival gates opened to fans. Another video on social media showed evidence of hundreds of fans entering the festival without tickets by rushing and climbing over a fence, and no security guards stopping them.
Concerts are supposed to be life-changing experiences for fans, and under zero circumstances should they be life or death events. What happened at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival was declared a “mass casualty event” by police and resulted in Scott and his associates being sued for billions of dollars by those affected. Going forward, something must change to protect festival attendees and security guards, as well as ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Rolling Loud is taking small steps with its new age requirement policy, but it’s a step in the right direction nonetheless. Hopefully, it paves a pathway for real change to happen moving forward.