Ah, Spring 2017. In many ways, it was the setup to something that could’ve been amazing – white sand beaches, sparkling turquoise waters, a star-studded lineup. Over two weekends, the Bahamas was meant to be the backdrop to the highly anticipated Fyre Festival. But, as most people remember, it crashed and burned in a huge ball of fyre.
What was meant to be Coachella in paradise turned out to be something more like Lord of the Flies. Netflix and Hulu recently reminded everyone of what a trainwreck it was with their rival documentaries – FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened and Fyre Fraud, respectively.
But the drama wasn’t just confined to the festival itself. Hulu blindsided Netflix by releasing Fyre Fraud just four days before Netflix’s documentary was due to be released, and it was something the masses were lapping up.
Whichever documentary you watch, it’s a perfect example of a certain fascination that people have with watching the inevitably disastrous. And to add to that sense of disaster, we’ve rounded up the top eight reasons why the Fyre Festival was an event that was doomed to go down in flames.
1. It was severely overhyped
Let’s start with the setup. Viewers were fed visuals of extravagant yachts, infinite stretches of idyllic Bahamian coast and supermodels galore. That’s the dream Fyre was selling. Then there was the lineup, too – Blink-182, Major Lazer and Lil Yachty were all slated to put on a show. What could go wrong?
2. The exorbitant prices (and general mismanagement of funds)
When Fyre launched, tickets started at US$1,000, which was meant to include accommodation and the flight to the island. It didn’t seem like a bad price to cover a five day trip in the Bahamas. But costs began doubling up as event day approached and deluxe services such as helicopter rides and free-flow drinks were continuously added to the list in order to justify raising the price of tickets to cover for the rapidly increasing debt.
The organisers took out a short-term loan and told people it would be a cashless and cardless event, encouraging people to load credit into ‘Fyre Bands’ which were to be used to pay for things on the island. Some people reportedly sold everything they had for one of these outrageously hyped up tickets.
Keep in mind that tickets started at around US$1,000 – these were one of the cheapest tickets that you could purchase for the event; the VIP package was priced at around US$12,000. We might be asking the obvious but did anybody speak to an accountant?
3. They oversold and under-delivered
A massive understatement, if there ever was any. Attendees were promised luxuries like celebrity chef-prepared gourmet meals, and ‘luxury, eco-friendly domes’ and villas to stay in. But in reality, it was more like a “disaster tent city” with Stephen Starr and Emily Ratajkowski nowhere in sight.
4. They paid people how much to publicise it?
While Kendall Jenner did end up deleting the post, it was soon public knowledge that she was paid US$250,000 to make that post. But it wasn’t just her. A flock of influencers including Rose Bertram and Hailey Baldwin were involved. Not to mention, this army of celebrities caused further controversy through a potential violation of federal law – they failed to disclose the fact that their posts were paid.
5. Basic amenities were lacking (including security)
Amongst concerns like not having a place to sleep, hunger and just general deplorable refugee camp-like conditions, attendees reportedly had to worry about feral dogs roaming the tented areas. Lockers that were provided did not come with any locks. That wasn’t the end of their troubles, though. Some attendees somehow found themselves locked in the airport after the ‘event’ with no access to food or water.
6. Lies, lies and more lies
Fyre was meant to be held at a private island called Fyre Cay, once rumoured to be owned by Pablo Escobar. This turned out to be false, and the private island was actually a dressed up Roker Point. Attendees were promised that swanky limousines would pick them up from the airport, but instead, ‘junky buses’ were the transport du jour. Once the artists caught wind of what a hot mess Fyre was turning into, they pulled out one by one. Major Lazer was nowhere near the Bahamas and was revealed to be at the Middlelands Festival in Texas during the time Fyre was meant to be happening and the only acts that ended up performing were local Bahamian musicians.
7. The situation devolved into madness and management did…nothing
Once the true extent of the ‘luxury event’ had been revealed, people started to freak out. Most attendees were rich kids banking on the fact that this was going to be the time of their lives; one they would never forget. The latter is true, though not for the reasons they’d hoped.
Firsthand accounts say that there was a Hunger Games like atmosphere – people were fighting over tents and ripping mattresses apart, and others were using them as floatees in the sea. Organisation had basically gone out the window; it was a free for all.
8. All that stress for a whole lot of nothing
Needless to say, this was the anticlimax of all anticlimaxes. No shows, no party, no fun, no nothing. Well, almost nothing. We still have two juicy documentaries to tuck into (that is, if you somehow have access to Hulu). If not, schedule in some Netflix and chill time and take some satisfaction in the fact that McFarland at least, is sitting in jail for one of the most notorious scams of recent memory.
Source: Business Insider, Mashable, The Independent, Evening Standard, The Guardian, Vanity Fair