ASTROWORLD – As the tragedy of the Astroworld situation continues to unfold, we’re become reminded of similar accidents that occurred at the since-obsolete concert event, The Big Day Out in Australia. What should’ve been a taste of freedom has become a tragedy. Eight people lost their lives. A 14-year-old boy and seven others aged up to 27-years-old were amongst the victims. Moreover, over three hundred individuals were injured while at least twenty-five individuals are in hospital. One person, a 9-year-old boy, is currently in a coma, according to XXL Magazine.
So, how does the Astroworld situation relate to Big Day Out? There’s two identical factors; a crowd crush and drugs. What makes some music festivals so deadly is the lack of crowd control and how it’s hard to police with thousands of people.
Moreover, concert event organisers usually don’t learn their lessons until something horrible happens to them. What’s more, is if they attempt to become better, tragedy keeps happening until it becomes unbearable. Therefore, that is why we’re trying to raise awareness of how out-of-hand these types of events can get.
What Happened At Big Day Out 2001? – Part One
Jumping back in time to The Big Day Out, and it was one of those massive events most preteens dreamed of going to when they were old enough. However, there was one thing they weren’t aware of; the drug culture. Furthermore, it was a rite of passage for many young music fans. It is their version of Woodstock.
For Jessica Michalik, she was a 16-year-old girl who lost her life too soon. She attended the 2001 Big Day Out event with her best friend, Liza Ryan. They had planned on seeing Grindspoon, Jessica’s favourite band play.
Liza remembers a lot of “angry male energy” on that day, which happened to be Australia Day, according to Paul Donoughue, Gabrielle Burke and Mike Williams of the ABC’s Double J in October 2019. The crowd had shifted after Rammstein had finished playing on an opposite stage. But the time 9:23 pm hit, security told Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit to stop playing. At the front of the stage, problems were beginning to arise.
However, the band didn’t stop playing as they were asked, said Vivian Lees, a cofounder of Big Day Out, as stated in the aforementioned ABC/Double J article.
Liza recalls seeing how people were struggling to get out of the crowd. Back on stage, Fred Durst criticised the promoters. As security did their best to get people to safety, Lees leapt onto the stage and took over the microphone, asking people to consider those around them.
What Happened At Big Day Out 2001? – Part Two
While it worked to a degree, however, as the set started, paramedics had the task of pulling unconscious people from the surge.
Seven minutes after Fred Durst is told to cease playing, Jessica Michalik is pulled from the crowd, and she’s unconscious.
Liza recalls that the last two memories of her best friend that she had were of Jessica in the moshpit that she had let go of her hand. After Jess wasn’t at the meeting point, Liza called Jessica’s parents, and when she got home, she discovered that her friend had been rushed to the hospital.
It was discovered later that after Jessica had been removed from the crush, paramedics had taken her to the first aid area where they’d been unable to find a pulse, nor was she breathing.
Jessica died five days later at Concord hospital on January 31st 2001.
Jessica’s Parents Didn’t Want Big Day Out To End, And Fred Durst Is Put On Blast
Despite losing their daughter, Jessica’s parents, George and Barbara didn’t want the concert event to be axed as it was part of Jess’ legacy. Liza agreed with them that there were multiple factors involved.
As George mentioned in the ABC’s Double JJ article:
Big Day Out was Jessica and Jessica was Big Day Out.George Michalik on wanting BDO to be part of his daughter’s lasting legacy.
Meanwhile, Fred Durst came under fire for his criticism of the promoters. In the years after Jessica’s demise, Limp Bizkit didn’t return to Australia until 2012, where they played at Soundwave, where they paid tribute to Jessica.
The coroner concluded that Jessica had died of asphyxiation as a result of being crushed. Founders Vivian Lees and Ken West weren’t penalised but they were criticised during the inquest for not doing more to maintain their crowd-control. However, no one was blamed for the crush.
While the Big Day Out festival were loved in the media at the time, there seemed to be a shift in how people looked at it. A D-Barrier was introduced to relieve the heaviness of the crowd in the mosh pit.
Moreover, one of the singers from one of the other bands criticised the crowd for getting violent. There was even one incident where a band walked off stage when the mosh pit got out of hand.
Astroworld Staff Apparently Didn’t Care
There have been reports from people who attended the Astroworld concert where they knew something was wrong. Many people attempted to raise the alarm, but no one seemed to listen. Io Dodds of the Independent reported that videos surfaced on social media of people screaming for assistance. Furthermore, an article by Taylor Ardrey of Insider wrote that Paul Wertheimer, a crowd safety expert has said that the crowd wasn’t to blame for the tragedy. He places the blame squarely on the organisers for not doing more to prevent loss of life.
According to the footage that is surfacing, members of the audience had to climb ladders in order to get to camera people who allegedly shook them off, too focused on their jobs rather than trying to prevent mass fatalities. Event officials say that there were roughly 50,000 people at the Astroworld event.
Travis Scott’s History With Misbehaviour And The Gate Crashers
Showbiz reporter Kinsey Schofield told GBNews that Travis Scott has a history of misbehaviour at his concerts and that there were gate crashers at the Astroworld festival. She said that the gatecrashing was all organised on the internet. She also questioned where the promoters, security, and the police were during this and why they weren’t monitoring online activity to prevent a repeat occurrence of what happened at the 2019 Astroworld event where three people were hurt.
Kinsey went on to say at the time of the 2019 event that the police had tweeted that the festival hadn’t been staffed properly. However, the tweet had since disappeared. She also bought up Travis Scott’s recklessness that had gotten him arrested in 2015 at Lollapalooza after he encouraged the crowd to rush the stage. Ultimately, this was reported by Daniel Kreps of Rolling Stone at the time of the incident.
As for the 2017 incident, a man claimed he was pushed off a third-story balcony during a Travis Scott concert and became paralysed.
Was The Drug Story Made Up? The Police Had Concerns
During Kinsey’s report to GBNews, she didn’t bring up the drug story at Astroworld because from what she had been told, the narrative had been pushed by Travis Scott and the organisers to create distance from the mayhem to make it look less tragic than what it was. She also said that the story is alleging that a security guard had been drugged and had fainted. She added that the deaths were allegedly ruled as cardiac arrests which could possibly be linked to drug use.
However, Kinsey also said, she wasn’t pushing the narrative because of how flimsy the story is. We have to say we agree. The youngest person who died was a 14-year-old kid. Who allows a child of that age to attend a concert like this?
To end this point, Kinsey also said that the Houston police chief spoke with Travis a few days before the event to voice his own concerns.
The Drug Death At Perth Big Day Out Event 2009
Ultimately, this brings us to the other death that occurred at another Big Day Out event, this time in 2009.
Gemma Thoms was 17-years-old and an alleged regular taker of ecstasy, according to a 2013 article by WA Today. She and her best friend, Cassandra Southern were excited to be attending the Perth leg of the Big Day Out as it was their first concert experience. After being reminded to wear sunscreen and to drink a lot of water due to the heat by Gemma’s mother, the girls finished their ecstasy pills when they got to the venture because they feared they’d be discovered and taken away.
This came after they took a pill each whilst at home. Before going into the venture, Cassandra allegedly told Gemma not to swallow the remaining tablets, but she did so anyway.
While the festival organisers were not responsible, according to a news report by Ten Perth News from 2013, the Inquiry into Gemma’s death found that the medical facilities weren’t up to standard and that the volunteer who treated her wasn’t to blame. From what was discovered, Gemma was let back into the crowd and that her temperature spiked into the 40s. Her death was ruled an accident.
What’s more, is that according to the aforementioned WA Today article, Gemma had lied about her age. When she and Cassandra got to the venture, Gemma was given a wristband for areas that contained alcohol. After getting off one of the event’s rides, she collapsed. She was taken to a first aid tent before she was rushed to hospital where she died the day after.
Has Astroworld Become Dangerous?
The Astroworld festival has only existed since 2018 and it’s already caused problems. Now, it looks like Travis Scott, Live Nation and an assortment of others are now being sued, according to Alaa Elassar of CNN. Here’s the thing, that makes us think. Given Scott’s history of misbehaviour, did he consider that his young daughter could’ve been a casualty if she’d been old enough to attend? This is not us being harsh. This is just us being realistic. How would he have felt if Stormi had been hurt? He should be putting himself in the shoes of the parents who lost children.
Sure, he has promised to pay for the funerals for all the people who died as mentioned by Sara Nathan and Gabrielle Fonrouge of the New York Post. However, this does not bring those people back from the dead. Children died! If he and the organisers hadn’t been reckless, the tragedy would never have happened in the first place.
All the Astroworld promoters seem to care about is money. How many of them have children? If their kids were in that crowd and were hurt or killed, would they be upset? Yeah, they would. Would they want the organisers to be held responsible? Absolutely. They need to stop thinking about themselves and what the victims’ families would want them to do.