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The Bahamas-based Fyre Festival was supposed to be an ultraexclusive concert event catering to the posh sensibilities of stars, Instagram models and the super-rich. That was the plan, at least.
What happened in reality was anything but a luxurious getaway on sun-drenched sands, as an unfinished festival site, underwhelming accommodations and a lack of food and staffing led to the proposed two-weekend event’s cancellation on Friday.
The 25-year-old festival head, Billy McFarland, who co-organized the event with rapper Ja Rule, offered his thoughts on the debacle in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“Today is definitely the toughest day of my life,” said McFarland.
He opened up about his past as a computer programmer and his love of the ocean and rap music, which led to his meeting Ja Rule and becoming business partners.
“We started this website and launched this festival marketing campaign,” continued McFarland. “Our festival became a real thing and took [on] a life of its own. Our next step was to book the talent and actually make the music festival. We went out excited, and that’s when a lot of reality and roadblocks hit.”
The festival’s locale, the Exumas in the Bahamas, proved a difficult setting for a festival the scale of which McFarland had hoped to host. “There wasn’t a great way to get guests in here — we were a little bit ambitious. There wasn’t water or sewage,” he said. “It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing, and it took almost all of our personal resources to make this happen, and everything we had, to make this festival go on.”
The volatile weather of the island didn’t help the cause. “The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes,” said McFarland. “We realized, ‘Wow, we can’t do this.’ “
He also addressed the issue of many guests becoming stranded at the airport either coming to or trying to leave the island. “The weather unfortunately delayed flights and made them run into each other in terms of being close to when a lot of people were arriving. That was unfortunately something we had no control of, but it made things unacceptable for guests, and we feel bad for it.”
However, McFarland seemed optimistic that the festival might have better luck in the future, citing inexperience as the reason for the disastrous event. “We were a little naive in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves,” he said. “Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren’t experienced enough to keep up.”
McFarland promised refunds and also stated that “we will be donating $1.50 [per ticket] to the Bahamian Red Cross.” He also assured ticket-holders that there would be makeup dates in the U.S. in May 2018.
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