What happened at Fyre?

Tl;dr: Fyre Music Festival was marketed as a luxury music festival with extravagant tents, gourmet food and breathtaking beach scenes. The reality was actually a disaster. The infrastructure was half-built, the food met bare minimums, artists dropped out and festival-goers were sent home or trapped in the Exuma airport.

The Fyre Music Festival was created by tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland and heavily promoted by rapper Ja Rule. The festival took place on Great Exuma, an island in the Bahamas. It was marketed as a “luxury” music festival with tickets costing around $1,500 and VIP tickets that included airfare and high end tent lodging for $12,000. Tents were promised to be “modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes.” The food would be gourmet, prepared by New York City’s Stephen Starr. Musicians from Blink-182 to Tyga would be headlining the festival.


What ended up happening was a disaster, as demonstrated on everyone’s Twitter feeds. Things went south almost immediately, when guests were told they weren’t allowed to the festival site, and were sent to an impromptu beach party, instead. Blink-182 cancelled the night before. The luxury tents were actually disaster relief tents. The gourmet food was bread with plastic-wrapped cheese in styrofoam boxes. Stephen Starr said he had nothing to do with it. Because this all unraveled so recently, it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly the organizer, Billy McFarland, went wrong. A talent producer for Fyre who quit six weeks before the festival fell apart, did give New York Magazine some insight, though. Since Fyre forgot to make him sign a nondisclosure agreement, he was able to say that Fyre was falling so far behind schedule,  event planners advised they postpone until 2018. The response from the Fyre marketing team?  “Let’s just do it and be legends, man.”


Fyre Music Festival wasn’t just a letdown for those with the disposable income to spend on a luxury music festival. It also poised safety concerns so bad that the government of the Bahamas had to release a statement apologizing for allowing the festival to happen. Flights back to Miami from the festival site were delayed and then cancelled. Festival-goers were trapped in the Exuma airport without food or water, with one man allegedly passing out from heat exhaustion, according to a festival-goer who live-tweeted the ordeal. The organizer, McFarland, has since apologized, saying “we were a little naive” in planning the event.


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