Emergency tents instead of luxury, chaos instead of a classy party: the failure of the Fyre Festival has long been legendary. Fresh out of prison, the man in charge is now planning the next big thing.
It was a break with expectations that is rarely experienced. As organizers pounded the drums for Fyre festival on social media, the promises sounded nothing short of spectacular. Even more beautiful people should have the best time in the most beautiful setting. Culinary delights, the finest drinks and great concerts included. Instead, what followed was sheer disaster. Now the main person responsible has the next iron in the fire.
Billy McFarland just confirmed this again to “NBC”. Under the name PYRT, pronounced pirate, he is planning another big party in a tropical atmosphere. And still pretends to have learned from the mistakes of 2017.
Instead of fame and fortune, jail follows
McFarland had to pay hard for that too. In 2018, a New York court sentenced him to six years in prison for fraud, and he was conditionally released in March last year for good behavior. Which doesn’t mean he’s off the hook: McFarland still has to compensate the guests of the failed festival and numerous workers in the Bahamas. And not too tight: His debts from the festival amount to 26 million dollars.
The Fyre Festival should actually make McFarland and his investors like the rapper Ja Rule rich. Although neither he nor his company Fyre Media had any experience organizing a festival, they promised the moon. The Fyre Festival was supposed to be Coachella in the Bahamas, with luxury tents, the finest food and performances by superstars like Blink 182 and Pusha T. The inclusive package was supposed to cost thousands of dollars, and influencers and stars were drumming on social media.
Then came the shock. Apparently completely overwhelmed with the organization, the organizers could only have managed an improvised camp made of disaster protection tents. Instead of the finest food, there was at most toast, even getting water was a challenge. The festival didn’t make headlines because of the concerts – all of which had been cancelled. But because the guests called for help in desperate social media posts. Several documentaries later traced the chaos before and during the festival.
And although McFarland has given the cleanse in several interviews, for example with “Vanity Fair” or the “New York Times”, and has been banned from running a company by a court, his new plans sound suspiciously familiar. PYRT is not supposed to be a festival, but a major event with numerous influencers and celebrities. Who – again – are supposed to meet with fans on a tropical island.
The majority, however, is a virtual experience, emphasizes McFarland. With virtual headsets, guests should be able to switch on who can influence events on the island, he enthuses on “NBC”.
Old wine in new bottles
His former companions don’t really want to believe that. “Billy is still Billy,” a former Fyre Media product designer told the broadcaster. “He uses different words, but he keeps selling the same product. “PYRT seems to be becoming a study in make-up again. It’s just buzzwords and empty promises,” another ex-employee chimed in. “It’s the same vague and mysterious kind of promotion again.”
In fact, the project’s website is surprisingly bland. Pictures show a village on the beach, there is talk of a “global treasure hunt”. The site does not explicitly reveal where exactly this paradise is located. The only indication is the coordinates, which are not linked to any other information. And although the tourism minister of the island state of McFarland has just described it as a “refugee” and has explicitly ruled out any kind of event with his participation, these coordinates lead to a small beach – in the Bahamas.
Sources: NBC, Vanity Fair, New York Times, Tiktok, PYRT website