The latest industry news to your inbox.

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy


‘Like a refugee camp’: Chaos at Fyre Festival

Ja Rule's new event, endorsed by Insta-models and influencers, has got off to an "unexpected start", with reports of stranded guests and a site resembling a disaster zone

By Jon Chapple on 28 Apr 2017

Tents, Fyre Festival 2017, Exumas, Bahamas

'Disaster relief' tents at Fyre Festival

image © Here_Comes_the_Kingz/Reddit

Fyre Festival, the much-anticipated new luxury boutique event by Ja Rule and Billy McFarland’s Fyre Media, has descended into chaos on its first day, with many ticket-holders stranded in Miami following the cancellation of their flights – and those who did make it to the Bahamas discovering conditions that have been compared to a refugee camp.

Angry festivalgoers – who had paid at bare minimum $1,500 to be there, and some up to $50,000 – have taken to social media and the r/fyrefestival subreddit to document the half-built tents, mountains of rubbish and débris and sub-standard food (“The dinner that Fyre Festival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese and salad with dressing”, wrote one Redditor) waiting for them in the Exumas, although the festival has yet to be officially called off.

The Fyre Festival Twitter account, which has since deleted its entire tweet history, has so far only issued two advisories to those witnessing first-hand what it describes as “the unexpected start to #FyreFestival”, telling those waiting for flights that they would have their tickets refunded and those on site that festival staff are “working to comfortably accommodate [their] needs”.

Blink-182 had already cancelled their headline slot at the festival, telling fans last night they were “not confident that we have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give our fans”.

There has, at the time of writing, been no word from the other performers, who include Major Lazer, Pusha T, Disclosure, Skepta and Desiigner.

The festival had been heavily publicised on social media by several wealthy, high-profile  ‘influencers’, including models Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid and Keeping Up with the Kardashians star Kendall Jenner. There has been speculation some of the backers may now face legal action for contravening new regulations on transparency in social-media endorsements.


Matt Halfhill, the founder of trainer/sneaker news site Nice Kicks, posted photos on Twitter that appeared to show festivalgoers housed in disaster relief tents – a scene described by redditor Here_Comes_the_Kingz as looking like a “refugee camp”. Another said the festival resembles “Rich Kids of Instagram meets Lord of the Flies“.


According to an anonymous 4chan user, the US embassy is reportedly now involved, flying “military rescue missions” to retrieve those stranded on the island.

One of Twitter’s most comprehensive documenters of the conditions on site has been @FyreFraud, who yesterday posted a video showing the state of what it jokingly called the “tropical private island owned by [Pablo] Escabar”, showing a barren landscape strewn with rubbish and unassembled accommodation.

Fyre Festival has promised to “provide regular updates and news via email to guest [sic] and our official social media channels as they come”.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.