The Fyre Festival was supposed to be an escape to an island paradise, where you and your friends could party with super models and indulge in luxury.
What those who spent $US450-$US12,000 for a ticket actually got, however, was a day spent trapped on an island, allegedly with no plumbing, a processed cheese sandwich, few musicians, and airport officials who reportedly padlocked dehydrated attendees waiting for a plane to escape.
The festival was the brainchild of young entrepreneur Billy McFarland and early 2000s rap star Ja Rule.
After hours of social media postings from attendees who learned shortly upon arrival on the Bahamian island that the festival was canceled and that there were no flights home or hotels to stay at, Ja Rule posted on Twitter, denying the allegation the festival was a scam while also apologizing.
“We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems,” McFarland told Rolling Stone, adding that he and his team were “a little naive.” He said that he would atone for the failure by refunding all attendees this weekend and offering them access to a free festival in the US later this year. He said that the Fyre Festival as it was intended will re-launch in 2018, and that $US1.50 of every ticket would go to the Red Cross in the Bahamas (later saying in the TMZ video each donation would be $US1.00).
“Next year, we will definitely start earlier,” he said.
On Saturday morning, McFarland told TMZ that promoters and artists had already reached out to him, and that he was working with them on next year’s festival, to be held at a beach location in the US.
McFarland created Fyre with Ja Rule in 2015, and told the story of how they came together last November at the MusicNotes Conference.
McFarland was interested in putting on a music event of some sort and decided to find the representative of Ja Rule, one of his favourite artists. His first stop was Instagram, where he found a guy going by “Reggie Muscles” who claimed to be the rapper’s representative. Reggie Muscles requested $US500 for a meeting with Ja Rule.
Instead of the rapper, Muscles passed McFarland to “Big Fred,” who made the same request. This repeated several times, McFarland said, until he finally found himself on a helicopter with Ja Rule after spending thousands to finally get to him. It was here, he said, that he learned Ja Rule had no idea McFarland had been trying to book him.
And thus Fyre was born, they said, as a way to cut out the middle men and create a festival that dealt with artists directly.
This year’s event was supposed to be headlined by Blink-182, who canceled shortly before the event, citing a lack of resources provided by Fyre.
In his Rolling Stone account, McFarland said he and Ja Rule picked the Exumas section of the Bahamas because of its beauty. He said that he later learned that there was no working water or sewage on the island. He told TMZ that he had to ship an ambulance to the island from New Jersey for the event.
McFarland claimed that he didn’t cancel the event sooner because things didn’t turn so bad until a storm late Wednesday night destroyed much of the event’s infrastructure.
This isn’t the first time McFarland has faced complaints for failing to deliver. Earlier this year, Business Insider reported that many members of McFarland’s Magnises club for millennials said that Magnises regularly canceled events with little notice, and that their Magnises credit cards were frauduently charged.
As for Fyre, McFarland said he’s moving forward and will be more prepared next time, assuming that actually happens.
“We underestimated the size of the team we’d need,” he told TMZ. “We had 300 full-time festival staff this year … we would seek to multiply that by a large factor for next year.”