Fyre Festival was advertised as a luxurious boutique festival held on a Caribbean island, offering well-off millennials the chance to sleep in private villas, yacht with models, and catch performances from the likes of Migos, Major Lazer, Blink-182, and Disclosure, all for the low price of $12,000. But upon their arrival to the island of Exumas on Thursday night, festival-goers were instead greeted to a post-apocalyptic tent city littered with trash heaps, feral dogs, and catered meals that amounted to a slice of white bread and cheese. Blink-182 soon pulled out of the festival citing concerns over the festival’s production abilities. All incoming flights to the country were canceled shortly after, and following reports of violence within the camp grounds, the US Embassy began offering assistance to festival-goers.
Following public outcry on social media, organizers announced the infinite postponement of Fyre Festival. Rapper Ja Rule — one of the festival’s co-founder — subsequently apologized on social media. He promised full refunds, and though he said he was not to blame for the clusterfuck, he accepted full responsibility. Meanwhile, Ja Rule’s partner, Billy McFarland, wrote an open letter that was published to Rolling Stone on Friday afternoon. In it, he called today “the toughest day of my life” and admitted, “We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves.” He cited poor pre-existing infrastructure — including a lack of water and sewage — and poor weather that hindered the festival’s pre-production as reasons for the problems. Like Ja Rule, he promised a full refund, but with an added caveat: they’re going to give it another go next year.
“There will be make-up dates, May 2018 in the U.S., free for everybody who signed up for this festival,” McFarland announced. “We will donate $1.50 [per ticket] to the Bahamian Red Cross. It’ll keep the theme of being on water and beach. It’ll be not just music, but all forms of entertainment. The one change we will make is we will not try to do it ourselves. We will make sure there is infrastructure in place to support us.”
Both Ja Rule and McFarland maintain that the event was not a scam. In the wake of yesterday’s events, however, several reports have been published suggesting otherwise. A one-time talent producer for the festival offered a behind-the-scenes account of the disarray, detailing a series of missteps and lack of proper funding. Even more sketchy, the festival’s A-list talent and models were told not to come to the festival, according to Page Six. “They were just like, ‘Oh, come next weekend when all the kinks have been worked out.’ This was before the chaos even started,” a source told Page Six.
Stereogum has also dug up a past interview with McFarland in which he details the scammy circumstances that led him to meeting Ja Rule in the first place.
Three years ago, I started Magnises. For those of you who don’t know, it’s an experiential and benefits platform that helps urban professionals access the best of their city. We have 100,000 customers around the globe, and as a way to give back I really wanted to book talent for these small private concerts. I’ve loved Ja Rule since I was a kid, and I think more importantly the girl who I liked at the time loved Ja Rule even more than me, and so I said ‘Let’s book Ja Rule for this private concert for Magnises,’ so I’m like shit, where do I go?
I went to Instagram and found this guy named Reggie Muscles who claimed to represent and know Ja Rule. So I sent Reggie Muscles a direct message, and he said ‘Give me $500 plus money for Ja Rule and he’ll show up at your party,’ and I said ‘Sure, why not?” I paid Reggie Muscles, and the next day Reggie Muscles brings in a guy named Big Fred. Big Fred says, ‘Give me $500 and I’ll get you Ja Rule.’ I pay Big Fred. This happens two more times until I finally meet a guy named Gutter. Gutter’s a little smarter now, so Gutter asks for $1,000 and then ‘I’ll get you Ja Rule.’ Now I’m in the hole big-time here, made an offer for Ja Rule, and Gutter called me a week later saying, ‘Ja Rule hates your offer, but if you get him a helicopter, he’ll come and do your concert.’ So I said, ‘Shit, he lives in New York, why do I need a helicopter?’ But I figured out a way to get him a helicopter for a 20-minute ride, and I book Ja Rule.’
Can’t wait for next year.