Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Staff Photographer
Travis Scott knows how to put on a festival.
His second annual Astroworld Festival is a blueprint others should follow. Perfect time of year. A diverse, fresh lineup. A smart blend of local nostalgia and current culture.
THE FULL STORY: See more photos, video and get a recap of the Astroworld Festival
And he keeps people guessing. The lineup, a diverse mix of genres, dropped just before Friday and included shock rocker Marilyn Manson, Pharrell Williams and the Houston All Stars rap collective. That meant it was at the top of social media trends as a lead up to Saturday.
It was great to see two women, local breakout Megan Thee Stallion and Spanish singer Rosalía, breaking up the testosterone – even if they were both relegated to the smaller second stage. Last inaugural fest was all men.
Tickets sold out in September, but more were released Friday. More than 50,000 people were expected to attend Saturday at NRG Park, across the street from the old Astroworld location.
Scott has frequently mentioned the iconic amusement park that entertained locals with roller coasters, a water park and an outdoor concert venue. He's named the festival, an album and tour after it and has used old Astroworld footage as a promotional tool.
Astroworld opened on June 1, 1968 and closed on Oct. 30, 2005. Buoyed by Scott's love for the park, Mayor Sylvester Turner has vowed to bring it back. He tweeted last month to expect an announcement before the end of the year.
Until then, Scott's extravaganza is a solid substitute. Aside from music, the daylong event featured carnival rides and games. Some opted for the funhouse, complete with warped mirrors and mazes. Others congregated at an old-school arcade that boasted skee ball, air hockey and a prize crane.
A large silver skull that resembled Scott welcomed fans once they entered the gates. It replaced the last gold Scott head. Lines for food and rides grew quickly. Several young men walked around with multiple bags of Astroworld merch, including hoodies and sweat pants.
This edition was much more crowded much earlier. Some fans even lined up Friday night to be the first inside. The excited crowds initially overwhelmed the staff, breaking through the gates and rushing toward the entrance. Three people suffered leg injuries during the stampede and were transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital, according to the Houston Fire Department.
The Houston Police tweeted Saturday that they were "working together to support Houston's biggest music festival" and were "collaborating closely with the festival to ensure the public safety of everyone attending the event. ”
Fans raced between stages throughout the day to catch Migos, Pharrell Williams, Young Thug and Sheck Wes, who closed his expletive-filled set by telling fans to“ keep following your dreams. ”Each act was given 30 minutes with the exception of Scott, whose closing set was 75 minutes.
Even before the“ Htown Hottie ”took the stage, the crowd warmed up with chants of“ Megan! Megan! ”It's no surprise. Megan Thee Stallion is one of the biggest new stars of the year, and her “hot girl summer” catchphrase has become a national obsession. She was given a slightly later time slot when Gucci Mane was mysteriously dropped from the lineup.
Megan strutted onstage in a leopard bodysuit and a braid past her knees. She packed her set with a lot, from dancers to crowd participation. She brought several people onstage to join the twerk-fest.
She was here last month for a headlining show at the Revention Music Center, but this performance felt rawer and more aggressive. She has a bracing energy when she raps, leading the crowd through several songs, including “Realer,” “Simon Says” and “Hot Girl Summer.” Next year,
The Stallion deserves a nighttime slot on the main stage.  The Houston All Stars had a big mid-afternoon crowd throwing their H's up and included Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Lil Flip, Trae Tha Truth and Bun B. Slim Thug thanked "the lil homie Travis Scott" for putting on the festival .
Maxo Kream, a newer name among the local legends, brought a rush of energy and prompted the crowd to form a mosh pit. He was dressed in Oilers blue and red to further push the Htown vibe.