Former UTSA student Travis Scott returned to NRG Park on Nov. 9, for the sequel to his revolutionary music festival, Astroworld. Named after his Grammy-winning album, “Astroworld,” the festival brought an array of artists on opposite sides of the musical spectrum with Pharrell igniting a more positive aura in the crowd and artists like Marilyn Manson enabling the pursuit of chaos by spectators. This dynamic encompassed the festival with a myriad of artists across genres holding one commonality: being a catalyst for anarchy and chaos for the estimated 60,000 in attendance during the various performances.
In its second year, Houston went all in on Travis Scott and his festival with Astroworld-themed art and decorations displayed from the airport to other large buildings in the city. Walking into the venue, it looked like a normal Travis Scott festival. However, a normal Travis Scott festival is far from the norm for other music festivals, and viewers stood in awe at the work put into curating an experience for fans. Consisting of two stages, the fest had multiple carnival rides that allowed fans to witness the concerts from a bird’s-eye view.
Astroworld allowed the pioneers of the Houston rap scene to come together by bringing the Houston All-Stars to the stage, which became one of the more memorable performances. The integration of sheer nostalgia accompanying contemporary rappers and rock stars was a high note of the festival.
The spontaneity of the festival began with the lineup releasing to the public 24 hours before the festival doors opened. If you are a regular festival-goer, you are probably accustomed to the artist lineup releasing months in advance to allow time for fans to contemplate whether or not the lineup is worth the money. Astroworld strays away from this notion, being sold out long before the official lineup released. Many avid Travis fans looked at the artists he surrounds himself with and began to speculate such a methodically thought out curation of artists for a festival of this magnitude. You would expect DaBaby, Playboi Carti and Migos to perform at a Travis Scott festival. But no listener expected was Marilyn Manson to appear in the lineup. Manson, an artist who is known for his demonic presence and cult-leader-like personality intertwining with today’s biggest rappers added a diversity to the festival that felt right. Watching artists such as Travis Scott and Pharrell Williams, who are known for their ability to influence trends across creative media, reminded us that Marilyn Manson is one artist who pushed his creativity outside expectations of what the music industry should look and sound like. This desire for creativity and innovation opened the platform for artists like Marilyn Manson and Travis Scott to headline such a festival together.
The lineup releasing a day before the festival may have blindsided attendees, but the myriad of surprise performers was the best part of the festival. This was evident when Swae Lee stormed the stage to accompany Travis Scott in their hit song “SICKO MODE,” not to mention comedian Dave Chapelle beginning Travis Scott’s set and the surprise performance of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” towards the final minutes of the festival. With sightings of Drake in Houston flooding social media, the Toronto rapper was expected to make an appearance as well, but he never showed up. Gunna also took the stage by surprise with a performance of “Hot,” accompanied by Young Thug and Travis Scott.
The festival was in-line with Scott’s curation of his own discography, allowing for a seemingly strange array of artists into what is predominantly known as a hip-hop festival. This was not only refreshing, but it integrated diversity into what is iconically known as strictly a hip-hop festival. Most of the artists were no surprise, but the addition of artists who deviate from traditional hip-hop festivals exhibited a sense of creativity and solidified a top spot for Scott in the genre. The integration of surprise artists made the festival memorable, and the scenic stage designs and venue layout made it a festival Texans will want to return to year after year.