Fyre Festival has been brilliantly dubbed as “the greatest party that never happened” and many of us will remember when the initial tweets started rolling in last year, about this disaster of an event as it unfolded.
Sold to wealthy young Americans as a luxury music festival co-hosted by rapper Ja Rule, it gained major online traction due to a social media campaign spearheaded by paid influencers and models such as Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid and more.
During the opening weekend, on the paradise island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas, it quickly became apparent that the festivalgoers, many of whom paid thousands upon thousands of dollars for the experience, were in for a rude awakening.
Social media exploded with tales of unfinished accommodation which was far from luxurious, and a venue which was grossly incapable of hosting a festival. There was little food and water and the now-trapped festival goers couldn’t even catch flights back out of the island as it the event was cancelled.
The whole debacle is meticulously outlined in the documentary, which traces the story from the hazy days of the original promotional video, where the influencers and models looked like they were having the time of their lives. Of course they did.
It’s a fantastic story, though watching the festival unravel also has some sad notes, especially when it comes to the hard-working locals, most of whom ended up unpaid for their months of work.
The immediate viral reaction to the festival’s failure is also covered, and it’s true that in an Instagram world of social influencers, there was a certain degree of relish in watching such a big fail.
This is echoed here too, but while it is natural to feel huge sympathy for those workers and indeed the many who worked on the festival in good faith, the likes of Ja Rule and indeed festival head honcho Billy McFarland come out of this Netflix doc pretty badly.
McFarland is now incarcerated on multiple fraud charges and the most bizarre thing about the whole farce is that, even after this mess, he tried to set up another company selling dodgy tickets to other high profile events such as the Met Gala and Coachella.
The music industry is notoriously dodgy, but this is one of the great tales.
In fairness, most of the music artists and their own agents aren’t implicated too badly, but the world of social media influencers and dodgy promoters is ruthlessly exposed.
The models and influencers also probably did it in good faith and for very good cash, but there has been a slight backlash against those promoting events which they are selling as organic. The reality is they are simply taking the cheque and will continue to do so for those willing to pay them stupid money.
The festival side of the music industry is a hard nut to crack. My own experiences have led me to always tell anyone I meet that I wouldn’t run one if I had all the money in the world.
We talk about festivals here regularly, but it’s incredible the amount of work that goes into them.
I regularly wax lyrical about the Electric Picnic, Body and Soul, Longitude, Indiependence and more, and those who survive the treacherous festival terrain deserve great credit. It’s a tough game, and even the big ones I’ve mentioned have had their ups and downs.
I’ve played at some dodgy ones too and I’m far from the only one who hasn’t got paid the odd time!
One memorable example took place in a really idyllic venue in one of the most beautiful places in the country. It turned into a farce as the weather turned bad and the numbers were poor, while the level of communication from the organisers was terrible.
It took me two years to even get a tiny portion of the fee I had agreed, and I was happy to get anything in the end.
It had cost me a lot to get there but I just wrote it off as an experience I’ve learned from.
Fyre was far worse, and the remarkable thing is there were multiple warnings along the way.
Still, it made for some great TV!