The 25-year-old organizer promises refunds after the $12,000-per-ticket festival ends in chaos.
The promoter behind Fyre Festival, the luxury festival in the Bahamas which was cancelled yesterday after broken sewer pipes destroyed the site, has admitted that he and his co-organiser Ja Rule “were a little naive” about the scale of the doomed event.
With headliners including Blink-182, Migos and Major Lazer, Fyre Festival was supposed to take place over two weekends on a private island in the Exumas, but collapsed on Thursday night after a storm damaged the site’s infrastructure. Guests who had paid thousands of dollars per ticket reported nine-hour delays getting on to the island, where they were faced with half-built tents and mountains of garbage.
Despite the chaos, festival boss Billy McFarland has now told Rolling Stone he hopes to hold a make-up festival in the U.S. next year.
“Today is definitely the toughest day of my life,” he said in a statement, explaining how he met Ja Rule (they took flying lessons together) and admitting that they were overwhelmed by the scale of the project: “We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves. Next year, we will definitely start earlier.”
He continued: “We were a little bit ambitious. There wasn’t water or sewage [on the island]. 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. We thought we were ready and built two different festival sites.
“The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes. Guests started to arrive and the most basic function we take for granted in the U.S., we realized, ‘Wow, we can’t do this.’ We were on a rush job to fix everything and guests were arriving and that caused check-in to be delayed. We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems.”
A make-up festival is now planned for May 2018 in the U.S., “free for everybody who signed up for this festival.”
McFarland has also promised to give $1.50 per ticket to the Bahamian Red Cross. You read that decimal point correctly – that’s $1.50 from a $12,000 ticket. “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,” he added.
A talent producer who worked on the festival has also spoken about her experiences, telling NYMag.com that “it was always going to be a disaster.”
“This was not a model-filled private cay that was owned by Pablo Escobar,” Chloe Gordon said of her first visit to the island. “This was a development lot covered in gravel with a few tractors scattered around. There was not enough space to build all the tents and green rooms they would need. There was not a long, beautiful beach populated by swimming pigs. There were, however, a lot of sand flies that left me looking like I had smallpox.”
One day, Ja Rule arrived for a site visit: “I don’t know if he actually visited the ‘site’ but he did spend a lot of time on a yacht, according to his Instagram.”
Outside planners had also warned the organizers that the festival would be not be up to the standard they had advertised, she continued. “The best idea, they said, would be to roll everyone’s tickets over to 2018 and start planning for the next year immediately. They had a meeting with the Fyre execs to deliver the news. A guy from the marketing team said, ‘Let’s just do it and be legends, man.'”