Just before Travis Scott emerged onstage to close out this year’s Astroworld Festival, audiences held their breath as a mock breaking-news-style video played on the screen. It depicted the Houston rapper hurting his knee, with a cast of EMTs assisting the rapper. (Scott had actually suffered a knee injury less than a month ago, at the festival Rolling Loud NYC.) Scott then rolled out onstage in a real ambulance, and several actors dressed as EMTs lifted him out on a stretcher and onto a cherry picker.
High above the massive crowd, Scott performed old classics and new hits alike, including “Stargazing” and “No Bystanders,” while calling on fans to open up spaces for mosh pits. Scott’s knee injury may have hindered his usual antics and dance moves, but he remained in high spirits: at one point, he even dropped his mic out of excitement and had to have a crew member bring it back up to him. To end the night, Scott, along with Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee, took on his hit “Sicko Mode”—complete with a pyrotechnics and fireworks show.
When Scott brought his Astroworld Festival to Texas for the first time last year, no one knew what the day would bring. He’d sold 35,000 tickets well before announcing the lineup the day before the festivities, which included the likes of Lil Wayne, fellow Texan Post Malone, and himself performing in his hometown of Houston.
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This year, Astroworld proved it could be more than just a one-off event. Over 50,000 fans last weekend descended upon Houston’s NRG Park, which had been transformed to mimic the now-defunct Astroworld theme park with carnival rides and vintage arcade games, along with the Screwed Up Records & Tapes storefront, and an inflatable, moonlike “Astro Dome.” This year’s lineup featured performances by Marilyn Manson, Pharrell Williams, and Rosalía alongside local legends like Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Lil Keke, and Trae tha Truth, and newcomers like Maxo Kream and Megan Thee Stallion. “I’m at home now,” Megan said to the roaring crowd during her set.
Back in September, Scott announced the festival’s second edition following the release of Look Mom I Can Fly, his Netflix documentary. In the film, fans continually tell Scott how he’s saved their lives, and how they wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. Scott often acknowledges fans by bringing them onstage, jumping into the crowds with them, and confronting security for kicking out “ragers.” Sold-out shows and infamous lines for special merchandise are just byproducts of what Scott keeps harnessing each year, though: his fans’ energy seems to be fueling him to produce bigger and bigger shows.
“I’m trying to design that new Houston sound,” Scott said in Look Mom I Can Fly. “Where people can go out and have something to parade with.” Scott has consistently made good on his promise by producing a festival that mirrors him, including his influences, his hardships, and his successes. While Scott has made a name for himself internationally, he now comes back to his hometown every year with this gift of a festival—a token of appreciation for the city that raised him, and what he plans to do for it in return.