Music

Miami’s Ultra Music Festival Is Being Called Fyre Festival 2

If that wasn't bad enough, Colonel Sanders also dropped a DJ set.

Ultra Music Festival fyre festival colonel sanders DJ photo

If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

Yesterday in Miami, the 2019 Ultra Music Festival kicked off its first day of performances. Featuring headliners such as deadmau5, Marshmello, The Chainsmokers, David Guetta, Afrojack and Odesza, the three-day festival was expecting massive crowds, having drawn over 165,000 attendees last year.

Nobody was too concerned, though. Ultra Music Festival had been running for two decades, and is a well-established event on the festival calendar. The organisers had experience on their side, as well as a decent track record.

However, this year there was a change in venue. Though typically held at downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park, 2019’s Ultra Music Festival is at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park and Miami Marine Stadium. This is the first time the festival has been held at this location, and there were more than a few transportation issues.

The first hint that there might be trouble came from an announcement in the lead up to the festival that there was no parking available at the new venue.

Instead, Ultra Music Festival offered free shuttle busses, or alternatively there were a limited number of three-day ferry passes available for purchase. Ridesharing services such as Uber were allowed to drop attendees off, but not to pick them up.

An estimated 80,000 people attended the festival’s first day, the majority relying on those promised busses to get them home. Thus, when the festival ended at 2:00AM, thousands of people were trying to load onto overcrowded busses – busses that soon appeared to stop running.

Faced with waiting fruitless hours for the hope of transportation, attendees clogged the streets as they walked 5km across the Rickenbacker Causeway in the dead of night, hoping to catch an Uber once across. Some have taken to calling it “Fyre Festival 2”, finding similarities in the mass confusion and large crowds of stranded people.

Festival organisers have since tweeted out an apology, and announced several steps being taken to avoid an encore performance. These include further training for workers and better transport information, as well as adding new post-2:00AM activities so people are a little less miserable while stranded.

However, some frustrated attendees are already pledging not to return. “I got my wristband off. If you want to buy it for today and tomorrow. I’ll sell it for $100,” wrote attendee Shawn Myers on an unofficial Facebook page for the festival. “I don’t care about the money I lost. This was my 20th Ultra. I’ve been going since 1999 and last night was my last.”

Though arguably the most notable problem, the lack of transport wasn’t the only issue plaguing Ultra. Festival-goers and performers alike were unimpressed when KFC’s goateed mascot Colonel Sanders took to Ultra’s Main Stage to play a set – a thing that actually happened.

Wearing an oversized Colonel Sanders mascot head, a white shirt and his signature black string bow tie, an unknown DJ took on the role of the fried chicken entrepreneur, pumping out lacklustre music and trying to look like he didn’t hate his life. Animated chicken drumsticks pulsed to the beat, while the words “time” and “pressure” repeated endlessly and everyone died inside.

Playing Ultra is an opportunity many up and coming DJs can only dream of. To see a slot go to what was essentially a glitzy, four-minute ad for fried chicken therefore left many with a finger-lickin’ bad taste in their mouth.

“This @kfc colonel sanders Djing at @ultra is lame,” said Marshmello in a since-deleted tweet. “I can think of a lot of other artists that actually deserve to be on that stage instead.”

We aren’t done yet, either. Because all bad things come in threes, a fire broke out at the festival venue shortly after the night ended, engulfing a tree and some surrounding vegetation.

Fortunately no injuries have been reported, and the fire department put it out without incident. The cause of the blaze is unknown, however some attendees have attributed it to a firework.

The second day of the Ultra Music Festival is currently underway. If you can’t be there – or don’t want to be there – you can catch it streaming on YouTube.