We Now Have Even More Crazy Details About The Mess That Was Fyre Festival
The fallout continues.
Earlier this month, the man-made disaster that was Fyre Festival unfolded. Through a trail of live tweets, Instagram posts and exhaustive blogging, we were able to witness the real-time disintegration of what was supposed to be “a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art, and food.”
In the weeks since, Fyre Festival organisers have been slapped with lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit, including a class-action suit for $100 million. The fallout is ongoing, with news emerging today that the two people who spearheaded Fyre — rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland — are being investigated by the FBI.
The New York Times has now published an extensive piece on the doomed festival, detailing just what was happening behind the scenes.
Here’s what we learned:
Tickets Were Being Sold Before A Location Was Found
In what was probably the earliest red flag, McFarland was still scouting locations long after tickets went on sale. The site they settled on, Roker Point, was only secured in early April — less than a month before the festival was due to take place.
When they did settle on a location, it wasn’t great: “Richard Hooban, a Brooklyn DJ booker, toured the site. He saw a craggy beach and a gravel-strewn plot where the main stage would be. “This is going to take a lot of money or time to transform,” he recalled thinking.”
They Were Selling Accommodation That Didn’t Even Exist
Ticket packages ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. One package — the ‘Artist’s Palace’ — was priced at $400,000, and included “four beds, eight V.I.P. tickets and dinner with one festival performer.”
Thing is, some of these luxurious accommodations didn’t even exist: “Fyre employees recalled higher-ups inventing extravagant accommodations just to see if people would buy them — and some did, they said.”
Punters’ Money Was Being Used As A Stopgap Solution
Fyre was meant to be “cashless (and cardless)”, and punters were advised to “put up to $1,500 in advance on a digital Fyre Band to cover incidentals.” According to some festival insiders, this money was “merely a stopgap solution to help the company’s cash flow.”
“They said that the Fyre Bands took in nearly $2 million; some of that money, according to another lawsuit, went to pay back part of a recent $3 million loan.”
Essential Festival Items Weren’t Even Supplied
It’s pretty difficult to co-ordinate an event without Walkie-Talkies on the festival grounds — but alas, that’s just what happened.
“Bed frames and beach chairs were rush-ordered; beach umbrellas had to be flown in, rather than shipped, because of late payments, according to three production staff members. Essential production tools, like walkie-talkies, never even arrived.”
Employees Were Begging For The Festival To Be Cancelled
Days before Fyre was due to take place, senior members of the organising team were begging for McFarland to postpone. “But having just taken out yet another loan for $200,000, according to a lawsuit, he responded that money can solve everything, one employee recalled.”
The main carpenter on site told McFarland that the site wouldn’t be ready, but even after a storm hit the festival sit, he wouldn’t budge.
They Owe A Lot Of People A Serious Amount Of Money
One of the festival caterers is owed $134,000, while a contracted carpenter is waiting on $5,000 — and has had his water and electricity cut off in his home because he couldn’t pay his bills.
Even more businesses are without their gear, as the “Bahamian government is holding [it] because Fyre owes more than $330,000 in customs fees, according to a government document.”
A Miami based company is waiting on around $10 million worth of their gear, without any clue of when it will be returned.
You can read the NYT article in full here.