Horror stories from Fyre Festival attendees stranded on the small island of Exumas in the Bahamas
- Ja Rule’s “once-in-a-lifetime” music festival cum “luxury” weekend turns into “mass chaos”
- Ticket prices forked out by the rich and famous from $1,200 to $20,000 upwards
- “Disaster-relief” tents, picnic tables, Styrofoam-plate dinner, artist pullout, stranded travellers
- Accusations of a scam, tickets refunded, make-up dates for next year
The luxe factor ensured that the Fyre Festival was one of the most talked about events in recent weeks. It promised the millennial rich and famous plush tents on an exotic island, gourmet cuisine and top-notch entertainment. Ticket prices started from $4,000 to $20,000 and beyond – sans airfare.
It was supposed to be a “once-in-a-lifetime” music festival that was organised by rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland. Instead, it was trouble in paradise for festival goers who forked out $1,200 and even five-figure amounts for tickets to the “luxury” weekend concert. So unbelievably poorly organised was the “exclusive” affair that it was “mass chaos” in every aspect.
Hyped by glossy ads featuring supermodels, including Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, the Fyre Festive was promoted as “the culture experience of the decade” in a tropical wonderland of yachts and villas.
What it delivered were “disaster-relief” tents, a shipping container to house luggage, picnic tables serving as a food court, no security, scarce amounts of food and a Styrofoam plate dinner. Akin to a war zone, there were air mattresses, boxes, shipping containers and heaps of trash everywhere, plus feral dogs on the loose.
Festival goers started arriving on Thursday and incoming flights were cancelled shortly after. Following reports of thefts and violence within the camp grounds, the US embassy stepped in to offer assistance.
Crowds who left the festival early waited for hours inside the airport to catch a flight home. They were confined to a locked area that was so stuffy that some people passed out.
Even before the event, there were signs that all was not well – artists reportedly not being paid and customer service not answering queries.
Billed as the next Coachella, the festival boasted a line-up that included Blink 182, Major Lazer, Pusha T, Disclosure, and Migos.
Blink 182 pulled out of the event on Friday morning, citing concerns the band wouldn’t “have what we need” to give a quality performance.
The event folded up on the opening day itself. The organisers blamed “circumstances out of our control” as the reason for the huge flop.
Ja Rule took to Twitter to make a statement: “I will make a statement soon. I’m heartbroken at this moment, my partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event. It was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting. I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded…I truly apologise as this is NOT MY FAULT…but I’m taking responsibility. I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”
In an open letter to Rolling Stone magazine, 25-year-old Farland said, “Exumas didn’t have a really great infrastructure – there wasn’t a great way to get guests in here – we were a little bit ambitious.
“There wasn’t water or sewage. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing and it took almost all of our personal resources to make this happen, and everything we had, to make this festival go on.
“The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes. Guests started to arrive and…we realised, ‘Wow, we can’t do this.’
“We were on a rush job to fix everything and guests were arriving and that caused check-in to be delayed. We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems.”
McFarland admitted that they were “a little naïve” and promised that next year they will start to plan earlier and get in someone to help.
Apparently, the organisers have refunded tickets and announced make-up dates in the US for May next year.
Whether Ja Rule and McFarland will win the trust of audiences and get the chance for a second shot next year is left to be seen. For now, it would be hard to beat the doomed Fyre Festival 2017 for the Worst Event Ever award.