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Live Nation stock tumbles on lawsuits over deadly Astroworld festival

Live Nation lost more than $1bn in market value after the world’s largest concert company was sued in connection with a Houston music festival where eight people died and dozens more were injured.

Two of music’s biggest stars, Travis Scott and Drake, performed at the sold-out Astroworld Festival on Friday night — one of the first big in-person festivals since the pandemic halted most live shows, with an audience of about 50,000 people.

As fans surged towards the front of the stage to see Scott perform, they were so closely packed together that some struggled to breathe or move their arms. An ambulance drove through the crowd to help fans who had passed out.

Eight people who attended the show have died, including a 14-year-old, while more were injured and hospitalised. The Houston Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into the event.

As Scott began performing shortly after 9pm, Kristian Paredes said he was standing at the front of the general admission area when he felt an “immediate push”, according to a lawsuit filed on Sunday in Houston.

“The crowd became chaotic and a stampede began”, leaving Paredes “severely injured”, the lawsuit alleged. He is seeking $1m in damages from Live Nation, Travis Scott, Drake and the venue.

“Many begged security guards hired by Live Nation for help but were ignored”, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that the concert promoters and performers were “negligent” for “inciting a riot and violence”. 

Live Nation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shares in Live Nation fell 5 per cent to below $118 in morning trade in New York. The company last week reported revenue of $2.7bn, up from $184m a year ago, as chief executive Michael Rapino declared that live music had “roared back” thanks to “tremendous pent up demand”. 

Jacques Berman Webster, better known by his stage name Travis Scott, has been criticised for continuing to perform even as the crowd appeared to spiral out of control. Paredes’ suit also accused Aubrey Drake Graham, known as Drake, for helping incite the crowd. A separate lawsuit was filed by another attendee, Manuel Souza, also blaming Live Nation and Scott for injuries.

Scott, among the most popular rappers in music with eight Grammy nominations, has a history of raucous shows. In 2015 he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct by Chicago police, after encouraging concertgoers to climb over security barriers at the Lollapalooza festival.

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