If paying a large chunk of cash for tickets to a “luxury” music festival and then finding yourself stranded in a foreign commonwealth with no idea how to get home doesn’t sound the plot of a B-list horror movie, then I don’t know what does.
However, this bleak plot is actually the unfortunate reality of any patrons who attempted to attend the first year of Fyre Fest, an event that was organized by Ja Rule and presented to the public as a high-end music festival experience.
The festival was widely advertised on Instagram, and was even initially promoted by the likes of Kendall Jenner as a first-class glamping experience of the highest order, with plenty of conspicuous consumption for your Instagram feed.
However, when the actual festival rolled around, it became abundant clear that Ja Rule’s team was utterly out of their element. Instead of the promised “modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes” for lodging, festival-goers were given unremarkable and bleak-looking tents.
Instead of food catered by Steven Starr, attendees were given bread, cheese and a tiny salad.
It was quickly becoming abundantly clear that the promotional images for the festival were not in any way indicative of what festival attendees could actually expect.
To make matters even worse, the festival promised guests that they would be flown “roundtrip on a custom, VIP-configured Boeing 737 aircraft between Miami International Airport and Exuma International Airport on Great Exuma.” However, many of the flights were grounded and cancelled before they could even leave Miami for the Bahamas.
Festival attendees were told that the event was not cancelled, but it was clear that no other flights were being allowed in.
(Also, the update from Fyre Fest misspelled “challenges” which seems pretty poetic.)
Fyre Fest’s Instagram thanked attendees for their patience, and claimed that they were still preparing to go through with the second weekend of the festival:
Thank you for bearing with us as we work through the growing pains that every first year event experiences. Revised itinerary information will be shared soon for the remainder of this weekend and weekend two.
To top it all off, the headliners, Blink-182, dropped out of the festival suddenly — for reasons which seemed directly linked to Fyre Fest’s inability to organize.
Kendall Jenner seems to be making a hasty retreat from the event as well, deleting all evidence of support for Fyre Fest from her Instagram.
And don’t even get me started on Ja Rule — nobody has even seen him.
Not surprisingly, the hashtag #FyreFraud has started trending on Twitter.
Some festival-goers (who are still stranded in the Bahamas until their transportation can be organized) even managed to get their hands on one of the festival organizer’s notebooks — which, upon closer inspection, seems to explain exactly how inexperienced this planning team actually was.
An entry dated as recently as one week ago states that “pricing/packages” still need to be determined, the “storefront” needs to be designed, and that organizers still need to “head to the site at some point.”
In short: shit is a mess.
Once social media began to buzz about the festival’s undeniable failure, Fyre Fest decided to put themselves out of their own misery and took to their website and social media accounts to announce that they were indeed canceling the music festival:
Fyre Festival set out to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience on the islands of Exuma. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we must postpone this experience. We are working tirelessly to ensure each guest leaves the island safely and ask for everyone’s patience and cooperation as we continue to provide ongoing updates via email and our official social media channels as they become available, including refund information.
The Bahamas even released a statement which carefully distanced themselves from the event, stating very publicly that the festival was not officially sponsored by the islands.
The whole thing is monumentally ridiculous, and those who were not directly involved in the debacle can’t help but laugh a little bit.
It’s an utter disaster. And yet another reason why you probably don’t need to take life advice from Instagram “influencers.”