Fyre Festival: A Social Media Dream Turns Out to be a Nightmare

A summer weekend spent at a music and food festival, off a private beach in the Bahamas, amidst the most luxurious facilities? Sounds perfectly Instagrammable?

This is how Fyre Festival was advertised in December last year, in their promotional posters. But on the first weekend of the festival, it was called off.

Private flights were cancelled. Headlining bands dropped out. Instead of luxury resorts, guests were greeted by tents akin to war zone relief camps. Gourmet food was promised, but cheese sandwiches were given. A luxury music festival, with guests from all over the world paying between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 7 lakh, turned into a train wreck.

Organised by Billy McFarland, the founder of the controversial elite club Magnises, the festival was supposed to be held on a private island called Fyre Cray in Bahmas. It promised gourmet food, yacht parties, personal concierge, and a round trip on a custom made aircraft between Miami International Airport and Exuma International Airport on Great Exuma.

Ja Rule, the American singer-songwriter was to host the event, that was to be held on two consective weekends, and bands like Migos and Blink 182 featured on their promotional posts.

Social Media Dreams, Harsh Reality

A classic example of the expectations versus reality, the attendees of the festival didn’t get any of the services they were promised on Instagram. While they had paid for luxurious living spaces, they got torn tents and even then, inadequate number to accommodate them all.

Cheese sandwiches in the name of gourmet food, and a music festival with practically no bands scheduled to play. The event’s location lacked even the basic facility of a toilet with hundreds of attendees stranded on the beach.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism expressed their disappointment by releasing a statement.

The Bahamas government said that they would extend their complete support as "clearly they did not have the capacity to execute an event of this scale," they said, referring to Fyre Festival organisers.

Statement by the Bahamas Ministry of TourismGiven the magnitude of this undertaking, the [Ministry of Tourism] lent its support as we do with all international events. We offered advice and assisted with communications with other government agencies. The event organizers assured us that all measures were taken to ensure a safe and successful event but clearly they did not have the capacity to execute an event of this scale.

A parody poster of the festival. (Photo: Twitter/@KevzDead_)

From Fyre Festival to the New Yorker So, my group of friends and I went into fight-or-flight mode. We dug through the shipping container and found our bags. We tried to find hotels in the area, and we couldn’t: there was a regatta happening simultaneously, so there were no rooms anywhere. We found a kind local guy who had a school bus. The sixteen of us got on it, and he took us to Exuma Airport, where there were about a hundred people who had been able to make it off the site. We were told we’d be able to get on a plane that was landing at 10 p.m. (sic)

Chaotic scenes from the Fyre Festival. (Photo: Twitter/@BoringMe2Death)

Attendee at Fyre Festival to Buzzfeed We were the literal first people to get a tent, we were first in line. About 45 minutes later we saw a rush of people coming over. They said, ‘Just go find one’. (sic)

How Did Fyre Festival Respond?

Official statement from the organisers. (Photo: Fyre Festival)

McFarland, Organiser to Buzzfeed I think the festival took on a life of its own, bringing more guests than we expected. We quickly learned that the infrastructure here on the island was not what we were used to. We needed more manpower than the 300-person team we had. 

Twitter Hits Back, With ‘Fyre’

Ja Rule, one of the organiser and the host seems to have gone missing in action and his last Instagram post, "getting Fyre fly ready for flight" has been deleted.

Fyre Festival has disabled the comments on Instagram platform but a Twitter handle @FyreFraud has tried to catch some of it.

According to the official release, the festival will be rescheduled and the logistics will be worked upon. Buzzfeed suggested that the organisers will try and refund the ticket money to the attendees.

(Sources Cited: Buzzfeed, New Yorker)