Arkansas is not exactly what you would call a hotbed for hip-hop. The South's influence on the genre is undeniable, but that region's sound has been broadly defined by specific cities, like New Orleans, Atlanta, and Houston. That is, not Rogers, Arkansas. So Travis Scott bringing his Birds Eye View tour to the city was a big deal, both for people excited to attend and the less enthused locals who looked on skeptically.
The distrustful locals were a central theme amongst people Complex spoke to about their experience at the show. Even before the concert took place, Rogers natives who attended the concert described an air of skepticism from a city not accustomed to hosting rap shows.
"Seeing how it was the first rap show ever in this area, besides college parties, no one really knew what to expect," says John Stark, a resident of Rogers who says he has attended at least 10 shows at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. "I just don't think the adult generation in our area was ready for a show like that... you mean to tell me Jim Bob with a Confederate flag Facebook banner complaining on a local news link knows a Travis Scott song?"
As things started to heat up during his set, Scott invited fans to make one last push toward the pit if they wanted to get closer to the stage. Multiple people who spoke to Complex said he yelled at fans to take advantage of the opportunity and bypass security. "If you want to get to the pit this is your last chance," said Scott. "Fill the pit. Security, let them through! Security, let them through!"
Travis Scott Fans - 1. Security - 0. pic.twitter.com/iTZPyDiRsR— LA FLAME FANPAGE 🎪 (@YamzInTheTrap) May 14, 2017
Rogers PD would later confirm this version of events, citing Scott's bypass of security in their statement on his arrest.
"During the concert, [Scott] encouraged people to rush the stage and bypass the security protocols to ensure concert goer safety," said Rogers PD. "During the rush to the stage several people were injured, including an employee from the security company hired to help monitor and control the crowd, and a member of the police department.
Though some fans claimed there was less chaos than you might have expected—Stark called it a "very controlled swarm"—others described disarray and people falling everywhere, struggling to get close enough to see the MC.
"When Travis said it was our last chance to come down to the pit, it was literally like a mob of people," said Katie, an Arkansas native who attended the show. "Of course I was going to take my chance, so I ran down and I got pushed down so many times. I jumped the gate to get in, and saw so many people getting into fights. People were losing their shoes and everything."
"It was like the scene in Lion King where Mufasa got trampled," added Michael Chen, a native of Fort Smith, Arkansas.
In spite of warning signs about how the show was received locally—including Scott repeatedly thanking fire marshals and security in the middle of his set—people in attendance say they never expected Scott to end up being arrested, nor did most of them find out until the day after.
"When the show ended, it felt abrupt, and you could see some authority figure backstage motioning to him," says Chen. "I wouldn't say he looked rushed, but he sort of laughed it off when we kept telling him to repeat 'Goosebumps.' After the concert, there was a sense of, 'Damn, it's over?' and everyone was standing around for a good minute. There [were] people jokingly saying perhaps he got arrested, but I didn't find out until the morning."
None of the fans Complex spoke to about the concert had any regret or earnest concern about what went down. Some of them even took to social media after the event to share their sadness for concertgoers who didn't put in the effort to nudge their way toward the front of the concert.
"I think the police overreacted a lot," said Katie. "The old people at the AMP just were dying seeing anyone have fun. So it looks like we're back to country music and bands no one has ever heard of."
Travis Scott may not be invited back to Rogers in the near future, but one thing is certain—his fans are on his side, and they'd love to see him come back one day.
"In no way at all was it anywhere near a riot," said Stark. "It was just a bunch of people having the best night of their lives."