If you’ve spent even the smallest amount of time on social media this weekend, you’ve undoubtedly heard tell of Fyre Festival, the upper-crust Bahamian destination festival organized by rapper Ja Rule and his 25-year-old entrepreneurial partner Billy McFarland. The luxury event, heavily marketed via Instagram as an A-List event for A-List audiences, promised attendees a private Bahamian island locale with high-end accommodations, gourmet catered food, slips for guests to moor their yachts, and a host of other amenities characterized by their lavish excess. High-profile acts like Blink 182, Disclosure, Major Lazer, Lil Yachty, and more were set to perform. During a pre-event site visit, Ja Rule made a toast to the organizing team about the coming celebration: “To living like movie stars, partying like rock stars, and fucking like porn stars.” You can watch the event’s flashy announcement video below:
However, as attendees started to arrive on Friday, reports began to surface that the actual conditions on the island were not quite as advertised. Reports from early arrivers included tales of bare-bones accommodations, roadside piles of trash and mattresses, no running water or sewage, and unfinished construction throughout the festival grounds. The gourmet meals promised to attendees amounted to a couple slices of bread with a slice of cheese on top:
The dinner that @fyrefestival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese, and salad with dressing. #fyrefestival pic.twitter.com/I8d0UlSNbd
— Tr3vor (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
As Rolling Stone reported, “Chaos ruled all facets of the festival: Luggage was simply thrown out of the back of a truck, feral dogs ran around the festival site and there were few security guards or festival employees on-site to assist attendees. Fyre victims have turned to Reddit to share their experiences, with one person posting that they witnessed “one guy [who] got punched out by security and they took his wallet.'”
This sums up Fyre Festival. #fyre #fyrefestival #fyrefest pic.twitter.com/x4xcFBL8Yg
— William N. Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 28, 2017
One would-be attendee from the UK told The Daily Mail that she was warned not to come after hearing reports on the conditions from friends who arrived early: “He was absolutely gutted. He said the place was a complete dump, just a rain soaked mud bowl,” she said. “There was basically nothing there. The boutique tents hadn’t been put up, The stages were tiny. He said there was filth everywhere and more worryingly really fierce dogs running about. He said angry locals had started threatening people as well. He said basically it was worse than a refugee camp.” Flights into and out of the island were eventually cancelled, leaving scores of festival-goers stranded and forced to take refuge at the island’s airport.
By Friday evening, the festival was officially postponed, with organizers promising to help fans get home safely and offering refunds (or, comically, tickets to “Fyre Festival 2018”). The days that followed saw an increasingly ridiculous stream of reports about the nightmare that was Fyre Fest. The masses threw around allegations that the whole event was an elaborate scam. The Internet had a field day with the disaster, basking in the schadenfreude of seeing the “super-rich” Fyre Fest target audience thrust into refugee-type conditions.
You may be asking yourself, with conditions as they were, how did organizers allow the event to go on at all? According to one person on the team in an interview with NY Mag, the actual, practical situation seemed utterly lost on those in charge. During a last-minute meeting to discuss potentially canceling the festival before it started, one unnamed exec brushed off the serious concerns of the staff with the same hubris and delusions of grandeur that marred the entire operation: “Let’s just do it and be legends, man.” Yeah. Can’t make this shit up.
Ja Rule spoke up to apologize to attendees (and simultaneously assert to everyone that “THIS IS NOT MY FAULT“), and McFarland wrote a long note about the Fyre-ey shitshow, calling this “the worst day of his life,” and chalked the whole mess up to the organizers being “a little naive” (read the whole note here).
Comedians Seth Rogen and The Lonely Island even chimed in on the nightmarish situation, revealing that they have been working on a movie about a music festival gone horribly wrong, and joking that they might sue Fyre Festival for stealing their idea:
This seems like a good time to mention the movie we are making with @thelonelyisland about a music festival that goes HORRIBLY WRONG.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) April 28, 2017
For real, thinking about suing #FyreFestival for stealing our idea. https://t.co/uiLxhzLg85
— The Lonely Island (@thelonelyisland) April 28, 2017
However, while the comedians were joking about taking the festival organizers to court, today brought news that the attendees don’t have as much of a sense of humor regarding this weekend’s FUBAR Fyre Fest: One of the attendees has filed a $100 million class action lawsuit agains Ja Rule and McFarland, citing that they subjected their festival-goers to “dangerous conditions.” In the official legal complaint, the plaintiff states that “this outrageous failure to prepare, coupled with Defendants’ deliberate falsehoods in promoting the island ‘experience,’ demonstrates that the Fyre Festival was nothing more than a get-rich-quick scam from the very beginning…Defendants intended to fleece attendees for hundreds of millions of dollars by inducing them to fly to a remote island without food, shelter or water — and without regard to what might happen to them after that.” The suit continues, “The festival’s lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees — suddenly finding themselves stranded on a remote island without basic provisions — that was closer to The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies than Coachella.” You can read the entire document here.
Festival organizers have yet to comment on the suit, but needless to say, after royally screwing the pooch on virtually every possible level with the inaugural Fyre Festival, it’s going to be an uphill battle for them to clear these legal obstacles and get back on their feet for Fyre Festival 2018, which–bafflingly–still seems to be in the works.
[h/t – Rolling Stone]
[Cover photo via TMZ/Getty Images]