As the investigation into the stampede at Travis Scott’s Astroworld event Friday night continues, a few of the musician’s key sponsors and partners are keeping silent.
Eight people were killed and hundreds were injured at Scott’s concert in Houston, after attendees in the 50,000-person crowd surged toward the stage. An investigation is being led by the Houston Police Department’s homicide division is expected to take months, an HPD spokesperson told WWD Wednesday.
In a news briefing Wednesday afternoon, HPD police chief Troy Finner said that his goal Wednesday was “not to cast blame on any organization, but to update to some aspects of the investigation. He also noted that the merchandise tents were “a big challenge. Very sought-after merchandise caused some of the kids toward that, breaking down barriers.”
Representatives at Live Nation did not respond immediately to a request for comment Wednesday.
Finner said that one of the roles of Live Nation was to secure two mosh pits that were directly in front of the stage. Noting the investigation is in the preliminary stages, Finner said his department owes it to the victims’ families to look at every aspect of how and why it happened.
Finner noted that the ultimate authority to end the show is with production and the entertainer, and there should be conversation with public safety officials. The police chief said he had met Scott twice, including raising safety concerns with him before Friday’s concert that was the start of what was supposed to be a two-day festival.
This year’s Astroworld event had approximately 530 officers working at the event versus 240 in 2019, the last time the event was held. Finner said he was not comfortable sharing the number of security personnel that Live Nation had hired.
The 30-year-old performer has vowed to cover funeral costs for the victims and provide further support including mental health services to the affected families and communities.
Scott and Astroworld organizers are facing multiple lawsuits due to the fatalities at the concert. Negligence and inciting the crowd are among the allegations. The high-profile performer has amassed a loyal following for his musical and creative talents, as well as his personal life. He and his equally enterprising partner Kylie Jenner have a three-year-old daughter and are expecting their second child.
In the past, big-league brands like Nike, Dior and McDonald’s have trumpeted their ties to Scott and their collaborative designs. Executives at those three companies did not respond to multiple requests for comment this week. A spokesperson at Parsons School of Design, which has a partnership with Scott’s foundation to provide design education to underserved communities, acknowledged media requests but declined comment.
Last fall, Parsons School of Design announced on what was “Travis Scott Day” in Houston that it had partnered with his Cactus Jack Foundation to provide creative and educational resources for future generations. In what was said to be a first for any design school, Scott and his foundation developed a fashion design program with Parsons. That venture involves sharing Parsons’ curriculum to provide design education to Houston youths via My Brother’s Keeper and a certification program for the younger set nationwide via scholarships. Scott’s foundation also has a multiyear partnership with the city of Houston across parks and education.
Representatives for Scott and his foundation reiterated the news earlier this week that Scott would cover the funeral costs for all of the victims and the mental health services. Representatives from Dave & Buster’s, where Scott reportedly went after the concert with Drake, also did not respond to requests for comment.
Mark McKenna, co-director of the Ziffren Institute UCLA School of Law, speculated that Scott’s sponsors are trying to figure out what happened and how much responsibility he has for what was going on. “There a lot of different possibilities. One version could be that this was a big failing by the venue. And he happened to be the artist who was performing and there’s not much that he could have done about it. In that case, it’s a horrible set of circumstances and a tragedy that it happened. But it would be surprising if all of those endorsers walked away from him, if it seemed like it didn’t really have to do with him.”
McKenna said another version of events could be that Scott or his company was very involved in the things that went wrong, maybe they didn’t have adequate security or the set-up was poor. “If it comes out that the events that unfolded had a lot to do with the condition of people that were there, and it becomes clear that that is a common feature of his concerts, that might make people more nervous about working with him,” he said.
Although a Parsons spokesperson acknowledged two of several media requests, he declined to provide any comment regarding the status of the partnership with Scott. Executives at Nike did not respond to requests for comment. Executives at Dior acknowledged one of multiple media requests but they did not provide any response.
A McDonald’s spokesperson declined to comment Tuesday. Last fall Scott reportedly made $20 million from a deal with the fast food chain, after creating a sellout signature meal for McDonald’s. Ordering one became a TikTok trend and McDonald’s workers were reportedly trained to recognize the lyrics from Scott’s “Sicko Mode.” That collaboration ended last year. The spokesperson declined to respond when asked if there were plans to work together with Scott again.
McKenna asked hypothetically, “Is it Live Nation acting on its own or is it the artist telling Live Nation, ‘Hey, we really want the venue to be like this so we can get near the stage.’ The difference in the level of involvement could matter a lot to figuring out who bears responsibilities for what happened.” McKenna said.
Scott was joined by Kylie Jenner and their daughter, when Parsons honored him at the school’s annual gala in June in New York City. At that time, Scott told the crowd, “The important thing to remember is that the kids rule the world. They’re never going to stop ruling the world. The more that we acknowledge that, the more peace that we can find. And connectivity we can find.”