An exclusive music festival, on a private island in the Bahamas, complete with gourmet meals, lavish accommodations and beautiful people.
That was the promise of Fyre Festival 2017.
Dallas resident Kendall Angela booked her tickets early.
“I knew a lot of people who were going, and I thought it would be a really cool experience,” Angela said Monday. “I actually booked it early, so it cost me just over $1,000. But the tickets did go up to $4,000, $8,000, and all the way up to $100,000.”
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But the ill-fated Fyre Festival ended up becoming a textbook example of “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Promoted heavily on social media by star influencers like Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski, Fyre Festival was expected to be one of the greatest VIP weekends ever -- the next Coachella, only better. The festival was supposed to be headlined by Blink 182, and held at a private island once owned by Pablo Escobar, but instead it turned into an absolute nightmare. The entire event has now culminated with a festival attendee hiring the legendary firm of Geragos & Geragos to file a $100 million class action suit on behalf of everyone alleging they were scammed by the organizers of the event, including rapper Ja Rule and noted entrepreneur Billy McFarland.
When the flight arrived, the attendees were told that the housing had some problems due to a storm that had hit earlier that morning and that it would be a couple of hours before the accommodations were prepared. They were all bused to a beach-side bar/restaurant and treated to free alcohol and food while they waited.
The “couple of hours” turned into 10 hours, before they were eventually bused over to the actual location and they encountered a combination of a construction zone and what looked like the filming set for “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Two people were set up with laptops at a table for the estimated 850 people to check in, but the disorganization turned into chaos when they told everyone to “just go find a place.”
“Everyone started sprinting to the tents,” she said, “And it was literally every man for himself.”
There was supposed to be electricity available and there was none; and despite promises of “luxury tents,” each tent was exactly the same and resembled something from a disaster-relief site -- beds and floors were all soaking wet, Angela said.
Then there were those who weren’t quick enough to get a tent, and they got to sleep on wet mattresses out on the beach.
“The organizers had also said they would provide lockers for everyone’s valuables,” Angela said. “But they neglected to mention that there were no locks on them or any type of security to keep people out of the area.”
Gourmet meals and a culinary experience had been a part of the selling points, and instead they were treated to bread with cheese and tomatoes and many of the festival-goers were getting sick due to drinking alcohol with little to no food.
As you’ve probably already guessed, Blink 182 was nowhere to be found. (The band canceled due to subpar production standards, according to NY Mag). Other headliners, including Major Lazer and Disclosure, had also canceled. There was a half-hearted attempt at providing some type of entertainment Thursday evening, when they paraded out a local band. But festival-goers were not impressed. In fact, they started playing music off their phones in protest.
Festival attendees had been given electronic bracelets linked to their accounts to pay for things while they were on the island, so many of them were essentially prisoners who were stranded like castaways with no money, no end to the misery in sight and literally no way to escape their horrific surroundings.
“We were definitely trapped,” Angela said. “I would say, yes, I felt like a prisoner there. It was scary. I tried not to think about it, but, yes, it was scary. There was no security and there were people getting sick and no medics available.”
One day of this real-life version of “The Hunger Games” was more than enough for Angela.
“We were told that they were going to start busing us off to the airport and get us flights home,” she said. “I didn’t trust that they would get us out of there in a reasonable amount of time, so fortunately I had my credit card and I went ahead and found my own flight on Bahamas Air, and I paid for that just so that I could get back home.”
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism released a statement distancing itself from the entire Fyre Festival ordeal, and offered “a heartfelt apology to all who traveled to our country.”
Fyre Festival organizers took to social media to announce the event was being postponed and have said they would give refunds to everyone who wanted one.
“They said that we’d get our money back, but I have no idea when that’s going to happen,” Angela said. “We all filled out a form to get our money back and as part of that form, they had a survey-style Q&A asking if we would like tickets to next year’s festival.”
You read that right; they are planning to do this whole thing again next year.
“Apparently next year’s show is supposed to be on a U.S. beach,” Angela said. “But there’s no way I would consider going. ... There’s no way I can trust anything they say.”