Stranded in the Bahamas: luxury Fyre festival turns to 'chaos'

Tickets cost up to $12,780 for music event endorsed by influencers on Instagram but social media reports suggest ‘disaster’

It was billed as an Instagram-worthy luxury festival in the Bahamas – but the supposedly glamorous Fyre festival seems to be anything but.

Tickets for the festival, which was co-organised by the rapper Ja Rule, cost up to $12,780 for a luxury four-person package. Festivalgoers were promised “a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art and food”.

Ticketholders have called Fyre festival a “complete disaster”, saying the tents were half-built and the luxury food also failed to meet with their expectations. Now, some are stranded in the Bahamas.

Stuck at #fyrefestival trying to leave for the last 8 hours. barley any food or water or security or electricity

— Lamaan (@LamaanGallal) April 28, 2017

The dinner that @fyrefestival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese, and salad with dressing. #fyrefestival

— Tr3vor (@trev4president) April 28, 2017

Overnight, reports came in over social media from disappointed festivalgoers who expected an event to rival the ever-popular Coachella in California. Among them was the writer William N Finley, who paid for an artist’s pass:

This sums up Fyre Festival. #fyre #fyrefestival #fyrefest

— William N. Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 28, 2017

Luxury trash receptacles at the luxury bar (with no beer). No shoes, no shirt, pajama pants, no problem. #fyrefestival #fyre

— William N. Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 28, 2017

So Fyre Fest is a complete disaster. Mass chaos. No organization. No one knows where to go. There are no villas, just a disaster tent city.

— William N. Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 27, 2017

He told the Guardian: “In the week leading up to it some things seemed like they weren’t as advertised. We gave them the benefit of the doubt and figured they’d pull things together before we got there.

“And we were dead wrong. It was chaos. No organisation, no one was in charge, there was just a line and no one knew what to do.”

UPDATE: they are having us sign papers for full refunds. They are just pieces of computer paper but I mean...refunds

— dylan (@DylanACOP) April 28, 2017

Some at the festival, including Finley, are attempting to leave the site but have reported long waits.

We have been locked indoors with no air NO FOOD and NO water #fyrefestival #fyrefest fyrefraud

— Lamaan (@LamaanGallal) April 28, 2017

Blink-182 was to headline the festival, but pulled out on Thursday as the reports of chaos at the campsite rolled in:

— blink-182 (@blink182) April 27, 2017

On Instagram, the festival’s organisers wrote: “Things got off to an unexpected start at day one of Fyre festival.”

They added all inbound flights to the Exumas had been cancelled “due to circumstances beyond [their] control”.

The official Twitter account for the Bahamas released a statement addressing the controversy, saying: “We are extremely disappointed in the way the events unfolded yesterday with the Fyre Festival.”

Bahamas official statement on Fyre Festival #FyreFestival

— The Bahamas (@VisitTheBahamas) April 28, 2017

Fyre festival was set up by Fyre Media, a startup run by Ja Rule and the US tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland.

In December, it was promoted by a slew of models on Instagram, showcasing what Fyre would have to offer. All the social media buzz from these “influencers” and Instagram models meant general admission tickets sold out before the music lineup was released.

Hey, Quick Question: What's Fyre Festival, and Why Are All the Models in the Bahamas Promoting It? - Fashionista

— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) December 14, 2016

The price of a ticket ranged from $450 for a day pass to $3,995 for “curated tented accommodation”. Some packages included chartered flights to the Exumas from Miami.

According to Vanity Fair, McFarland and Ja Rule paid more than 400 social media influencers to plug the festival, which is set to be held over the next two weekends. None of them have yet commented on the posts now coming from the festival site.

While it had a buzz on the web, according to reports earlier this month, organisation of the festival was not going so well. Page Six reported concerns that the organisers were “out of their league” as they had not yet seen pictures of the luxury villas promised on site. At the beginning of April, the Wall Street Journal reported delays to paying artists scheduled to perform at the festival.

  • This article was amended on 28 April 2017 to clarify the prices of the tickets.


Elena Cresci

The GuardianTramp

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