OPINION: The sun may be up over Exuma Island in the Bahamas, but the sight is no brighter.
Images from the ill-fated Fyre Festival show the extent of the poorly organised, US$4000-to- $12,000- a-ticket (NZ$5800 – $17000) event that had attendees pleading for rescue over social media. Many shared video of being locked into the airport without food and water, after claims of being dragged from their half-built tents, robbed, and sent packing.
Some of the reports from inside the festival – like these on The Fader – sound more like disaster area coverage, with some even suggesting security were robbing festival goers at gunpoint, kidnapping people and attacking them, or like a scene from Mad Max, being chased by packs of feral dogs.
On Saturday morning, a report by Motherboard suggested staff hired to work the festival were warned not to attend. While video of festival goers who were detained at the Exuma airport showed them cheering as their planes landed back in civilisation.
READ MORE: ‘Send help’: Luxury Bahamas music festival postponed after descending into chaos
Meanwhile, back home, those unable to attend due to not having fat trust funds or rich daddies, found it hard to sympathise with the plight of rich kids dealing with a sudden-onset case of reality.
So was it just old-fashioned mismanagement, or some kind of Banksy-like social experiment as some commenters have suggested, or a more deliberate scam as has been alleged?
Festival organiser Billy McFarland has already done some hand wringing over at The Rolling Stone, telling them, “we were a little naive”.
“The Exumas didn’t have a really great infrastructure – there wasn’t a great way to get guests in here – we were a little bit ambitious,” he says. “There wasn’t water or sewage. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing.”
He goes on to blame a bad storm for scuppering their plans – and from the look of things, the weather seems to have played a part.
But according to Spin magazine, this isn’t the first business McFarland has been involved in that’s gone belly up.
The entrepreneur also founded Magnises, a credit-based social club for aspirational millennials that turned out to be little more than a gussied up credit card. In other words – all flash and no real cash.
Hollywood Reporter managed to dig up a model scheduled to appear at the festival, presumably as some sort of luxury set dressing, who says she turned back at the airport when reports started flooding in about the fiasco.
“We get to Miami. We’re at the gate,” model Amanda Reily tells the Reporter, very much in her own voice. “And we have all of our wristbands. And I’m getting texts from a really good friend of mine who was in the Bahamas, and he said it’s an absolute disaster. ‘Don’t come.’
“And I was like, ‘well I didn’t pay for anything, and we were supposed to be in villas. Not these tents.’ And apparently, these tents weren’t even made. Like there was no air conditioning. The beds were soaking wet. We’re outside in the pouring rain.”
Many of the accounts from inside the festival appeared on Reddit, which is where details like the roaming packs of feral dogs, attacks on festival goers by security staff and allegations of missing people came from.
Not all of the accounts will be accurate – certainly, there have been no legitimate reports of kidnapping and gun fire – but many of them make for fascinating – if disturbing – reading.
In any case, things are bound to become clearer in the coming weeks. But in the mean time, take a look around the Instagram- star supported, luxe festival that wasn’t, Fyre on Exuma Island: