In April of 2017, music fans who shelled out thousands of dollars for admission headed for the Bahamian island of Great Exuma for Fyre Festival. The brand-new event was hailed by Instagram influencers and celebrities (like co-organizer Ja Rule) as two weekends of epic island partying, complete with gourmet food and luxury accommodations.
When the unlucky patrons finally arrived on the island (many others were stranded in Miami due to grounded flights), they learned that this supposedly-epic festival was anything but.
Instead of the glamping experience they were promised, Fyre Festival's "cabanas" looked more like disaster relief tents — and what a disaster Fyre Festival was. Limited access to food, water, and shelter had festival goers tweeting up a storm about how they were woefully misguided into attending.
Ultimately, the whole affair was shut down, with this statement posted on the festival's website: "Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests."
Ja Rule also issued a statement after the festival's cancelation, writing on Twitter:
"I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT... but I’m taking responsibility. I’m deeply sorry to everyone inconvenienced by this."
Per The New York Times, McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud after it was revealed that he had defrauded investors of Fyre Media, the company which helped establish the festival that wasn't. In July, he pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud again, this time due to a separate company that he created (while he was out on bail, no less!) which sold fake tickets to events like the Grammys and the Met Gala.
Regardless, o-organizer Ja Rule is still #TeamFyreFestival. Well, at least the concept of Fyre Festival.
"I'm not ashamed of Fyre at all. Because man, the idea, it was brilliant. It was fucking beyond brilliant... It was amazing," Ja Rule said during an interview on the podcast Drink Champs, before he admitted: "It wasn't what I dreamed it of being and what I envisioned of it being and what I wanted it to be. It wasn't done properly."
We may be wary of all island music festivals moving forward, but man, would this be a fun nightmare to watch unfold from the comfort of our couch.
Refinery29 has reached out to representatives for McFarland and Ja Rule for comment.