Travis Scott tried to promote Houston. Did he put it down?

A few months ago, when the playwright ShaWanna Renee Rivon gave a speech at her alma mater, the University of Houston, a student told her that he would not be able to attend her upcoming writing seminar: he was going to the Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival.

“He was looking forward to something historic. I saw it on his face. It was just a sense of pride,” Livin said.

When news broke that the November 5th concert became fatal and eventually claimed 9 lives, Rivon hurriedly checked the student. She said that he survived but was shocked. Many Houstonians are also proud of Scott and his reimagining of the Space City urban theme park, which once stood next to the Astrodome and shaped childhood across race and class boundaries.

AstroWorld was razed to the ground in 2006 when Scott (born Jacques Bermond Webster II) was 15 years old. But for him and other Houstonians, it still lingers in the memory. Nostalgic, he named the 2018 album “Astroworld” and held a two-day music festival of the same name at the former site of the theme park in the same year, making the entrance an intersection of his image and one of the iconic amusement facilities. Texas hurricane.

Approximately 100 acres of park opened in 1968, next to Interstate highway The 610 ring road surrounds the city center.The rides include the Texas Hurricane, a wooden roller coaster modeled after New York Coney Island Cyclone and Thunder River were considered the world’s first river rapids when they opened in 1980. It developed into a water park and dance club, Studio A, which broadcasts the show “Videocity” on the local TV station.

“When you reach a certain age, in summer, we will get a summer pass. Your parents will take you there, it’s just a place,” said the 43-year-old Livin, who recalled dancing in the club. “That’s just a sense of freedom.”

The Southern Star Amphitheater in the park hosted performers including Beach Boys, Grateful Dead and AC/DC. In the era before the advent of the Internet and streaming music, it introduced many young Houstonians to genres they had never heard before. Adjunct Professor John Chilis said in the African American Research Project at the University of Houston.

Houston is a city of multiple blocks, from the mansions in River Oaks and Rice Village to the low-income apartments in Greenspoint and Sharpstown. It was also initially divided into wards, which are usually associated with ethnic communities. The fifth ward is Latino; the third district-where Scott’s grandmother lives, he often mentions in his songs-is historically black.

Chile says that for many people, AstroWorld transcends these differences. He said that Houstonians not only grew up in theme parks, they were eventually included in Six Flags theme parks; they worked there, often with people from different parts of the town.

“AstroWorld is really integrated into the Houston community,” said the 58-year-old Chile.

During Scott’s performance, after a fatal crowd squeeze during the festival, Chilis said, “The citizens of Houston are heartbroken.”

“This can be traced back to AstroWorld being a positive experience for many people,” he said.

Chilis said that Houstonians were not only concerned about the ongoing investigations led by the police, but also “handled them personally.”

“It’s very proud here, especially in the hip-hop community,” said Chiles, who teaches Houston hip-hop legends and invites local artists to give lectures in his class.

Beyonce grew up in the third district and also has a name in her songs, just like Scott (as everyone knows, he also visited French chicken and Shipley doughnuts, with his girlfriend Kylie Jenner , The latter posted information about donuts on Instagram). Megan Thee Stallion also grew up in Houston and is expected to graduate from the third district of Texas Southern University, his alma mater in Chile, next month. This is a black school with a long history. But neither of them created a music festival on the scale of Astroworld, which debuted in 2018, returned in 2019, and was postponed last year due to the pandemic.

A tourist writes a note on a memorial outside the cancelled Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas.

On November 7, a tourist wrote a note on the monument outside the cancelled Astroworld Festival.

(Alex Bierens de Haan / Getty Images)

Unlike other “pop superstars”, Scott used his music, especially the Astroworld Festival, to attract artists from other genres to Houston. Chile said: In addition to hip-hop bands like Drake and Young Thug, this year’s lineup also includes Bad Bunny; Taming Impala; Earth, Wind and Fire; and SZA. Chileans said that locals also noticed that Scott gave back to charities in other ways, especially youth. Mayor Sylvester Turner gave Scott a key to the city a year after he first attended the Space Festival.

“Anyone who knows Travis Scott knows he is a good person. He does a lot of things quietly here,” Chilis said, noting that Scott and his grandmother had dedicated one of the eight Houston public school gardens that his foundation helped build a few days before Astroworld.

Chilis, who had met with Houston Police Chief Troy Fenner, said that he “stands out from the ranks; he cares.” But he was troubled seeing Fenner and other officials. Blame Scott for not closing the concert (Fenner emphasized at the briefing on Wednesday that Scott has the right to stop the show).

“We have to look at the people’s willingness to be managed,” Chile said. “This happened in Houston, but it’s not Houston’s problem.”

Since the Astroworld disaster, many hip hop stars in Houston, including Paul Wall and the Slim thug, have remained silent. Rapper Bun B, 48-year-old Bernard Freeman (Bernard Freeman), talked about the tragedy on an Instagram live broadcast in Houston on Monday.

“This city has to deal with a lot of things,” he said. “I’m not even there, I have a certain feeling…very emotional about this situation.”

Bun B said that the relatives who attended the festival were fine, but he noticed how much trauma each participant experienced. He said that he flew from Houston to Los Angeles to attend ComplexCon last weekend. The audience at the concert returned to California after attending Astroworld. A young man appeared to have been particularly traumatized. Music to deal with it, this is the whole reason for his going.”

“As a community, what do we not get? We treat our children, I mean collectively, from all over the world,” Bun B said.

Houston disc jockey Michael Pierangeli, who has participated in all three Astroworld festivals, said that this year the crowd has become even denser.

“People’s expectations are obviously higher because we are in the midst of a pandemic. This is the first big event outside and it’s Travis Scott. There are a lot of people flying in from all over,” said 30-year-old Pierangley .

Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, a former Republican candidate for mayor and a resident of River Oaks, grew up in AstroWorld Park.

“There is that kind of nostalgia,” Bouzby said. “Most people who attended that concert didn’t know what AstroWorld was, but the people who managed the city knew.”

Buzbee said he asked his teenage son to participate in this festival in 2019, but they felt unsafe and did not come back. Buzbee represents the family of 21-year-old Axel Acosta, one of the victims this month, and stated that they are responsible to the organizers and Scott.

“You can’t encourage people to riot. As a responsible person, you can’t do these things, no matter how popular you are, no matter whether you are its founder or not, no matter whether the mayor has given you the key to the city, they prevent traffic Give you a place to park your Lamborghini,” Buzbee said. “Did he go to a party after this concert? I will ask him when I remove him.”

Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States and considered by many to be the most diverse city. This is reflected in the population and casualties of Astroworld, which includes black, white, Latino, and Indian Americans between the ages of 14 and 27.

Among them was Bharti Shahani, 22, whose parents immigrated from India, settled in Houston, opened a clothing store, and sent her to Texas A&M University.

“Houston is a diverse immigrant community and they are seeking better opportunities for the next generation,” Mohammed Nabulsi, a lawyer for the Shahani family, said next to them at a briefing on Thursday. . “Batti played the role of the oldest brothers and sisters of the first generation: they are the glue of the family, they are the liaisons, they are the mentors… This is not only what the Shahani family has lost, but also our entire family. What the community has lost: a shining star.”

Attorney James Lassiter’s law firm represented the family. He recalled how when he visited AstroWorld as a child, the park “has always been a symbol of the family and all the good things in Houston”.

Lassiter said his 17-year-old son also participated in the festival, “I was lucky that he went home that night.”

Ezra Blount (Ezra Blount) lives in the suburbs of Houston. His grandmother Tericia Blount said that Ezra Blount is a 9-year-old child. Attended Astroworld with his father, and was in critical condition after being trampled on Friday at a Houston hospital.

Blount, a 52-year-old retired nurse who works at Texas Children’s Hospital, said that doctors are trying to get Ezra off the medication that kept him in a coma for a week because they are working on his brain And heart problems.

She said her son took Ezra to Astroworld because Scott thought it was a family event.

“He painted face paintings, Ferris wheels and rides for the children,” she said. “It is said that this is a family activity suitable for all ages. So you will think that we can all go, he and his son, combine. Then your whole world will be completely overturned.”

Blunt said the family who hired attorney Ben Crump wanted to see everyone involved, including Scott, held accountable.

“He could have stopped,” Blunt said. “He saw something, but he just kept going.”

By Friday night, a week after the concert, the monument on the fence of the Astroworld Festival had grown to include photos of the dead, cards, balloons, and hundreds of bouquets.

At dusk, Toni Tacorda was the only visitor. A student at the University of Houston said that she had worked as a security guard at a concert and expressed her respect on behalf of her security teams living across the state. She said that one of the 18-year-old girls had rescued the body of the 14-year-old concert audience.

“We can only save so many people,” said the 21-year-old Takoda. “We are doing our job.”

Tacorda moved to Houston from the Philippines when he was 6 years old and thought it was a popular place. She is very happy to see that the memorial hall continues to grow with people’s tribute.

“This is the characteristic of my city: there is always someone to serve you,” she said.

She attended the last two Astroworld concerts and was inspired by the rise of Scott, but she believes that he cannot save the festival from such a tragedy.

“Astroworld will never happen again,” she said. “This will be another disaster related to Houston.”

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