Five Festival Fiascos On Par With Fyre

Jesus and the Devil battled to a near-draw at last year's Houston Open Air, with Lucifer perhaps having a slight edge.EXPAND
Jesus and the Devil battled to a near-draw at last year's Houston Open Air, with Lucifer perhaps having a slight edge.
Photo by Lisandro Sanchez
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If you’re unfamiliar with the tire fire that was last weekend's Fyre Festival, here’s a pretty short synopsis: In short, the Bahamas-based festival was to be half vacation-half music festival, featuring major acts, fun in the sun, umbrella drinks – in short, the perfect island getaway. Now, after folks were stranded, artists bailed and the festival was called off, folks are blaming organizers and, most notably, Ja Rule.

Yes, it’s that weird a story, one complete with twists and turns aplenty. Attendees arrived at the festival expecting catered meals; they were served cheese sandwiches and salads without dressing in Styrofoam containers. They were promised an island paradise; they got a port-a-potty and some scattered camping tents. Many were left stranded without their luggage, identification or even passports.

TSR STAFF: Jade Ashley @Jade_Ashley94 on Instagram & Twitter _____________________________________ It has been about a week since the #JaRule and #BillyMcFarland’s #FyreFestival was supposed to go down in the Bahamas. _____________________________________ By now we all know that the festival didn’t turn out too well, and they have been receiving backlash for the failed event for the past week. The co-organizers were even sued by one of the attendees. _____________________________________ Now another lawsuit has been filed, and three more attendees are looking for them to pay up. _____________________________________ According to the Hollywood Reporter, personal injury attorney John Girardi is representing attendees, Chelsea Chinery, Shannon McAuliffe and Desiree Flores. They are suing for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and fraud after attending the event. _____________________________________ The lawsuit filed on Tuesday in a Los Angeles County Superior Court says the defendants used social media influencers to trick people into attending their event. _____________________________________ Girardi said, "Social media 'influencers' made no attempt to disclose to consumers that they were being compensated for promoting the Fyre Festival.” _____________________________________ He continued, "As Plaintiffs began to grasp the dire nature of the situation, upon witnessing the complete lack of infrastructure necessary to host such an event, a panic enveloped the crowd. Plaintiffs were stuck on the island, with no—read more at TheShadeRoom.com

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This was basically a contemporary Lord of the Flies revolving around a planned music festival. It was a fiasco of the highest order; it also brought Ja Rule back into the public eye for the first time in, well, let’s just say “Put It on Me” was a long time ago. But Fyre Fest isn’t alone. In fact, recent music history is littered with past festivals that featured crime, chaos and the outright bizarre. Some of these festivals even happened locally. Here are five of the most notable. (Note: This list is limited to modern-era fests, for brevity’s sake.)

Another beach-set music festival that ended poorly, BPM Fest unfortunately featured far more damage than some soggy sandwiches and lost luggage. The worldwide dance festival ended abruptly when multiple gunmen opened fire both in the Blue Parrot nightclub in Playa del Carmen and in the streets outside; five people were killed and 15 more injured. The Zeta drug cartel later took credit for the attack, in retaliation for festival organizers’ refusing to pay bribes demanded by the cartel. As a result, electronic music festivals are now banned in Playa del Carmen.

Last year's Open Air Fest wasn't exactly a hit.
Last year's Open Air Fest wasn't exactly a hit.
Photo by Jack Gorman

Any prospective music-festival organizer should know that advertising a festival as “rain or shine” means you'd better be prepared for the former, particularly in Houston. Organizers of the Houston installment of the Open Air franchise learned as much last September during the inaugural festival, which was supposed to feature acts like Avenged Sevenfold, Slayer, Deftones, Anthrax and many more. A number of these acts did play as scheduled, but several others either weren’t able to or had to cut it short because, you guessed it, Houston weather. That forced evacuations of the grounds on both days and resulted in only a handful of bands playing at all. Sure, partial refunds were issued, and hell, Avenged Sevenfold even played a free show at White Oak Music Hall for those with HOA passes, but in the end, it was a bad look for a festival that very well might be a "one and done" in Houston.

Rock the Bayou Fest 2008, featuring Alice Cooper, had its share of problems.
Rock the Bayou Fest 2008, featuring Alice Cooper, had its share of problems.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez

The first, and last, Rock the Bayou fest looked good on paper. The four-day event over Labor Day Weekend 2008 saluted all things '80s hard rock, with headliners like Queensrÿche, Skid Row, Sammy Hagar, Alice Cooper and Twisted Sister. For those looking to relive a decade of excess, this was the place. Of course, things didn’t turn out as many had hoped. The weather – as it often does in Houston – soured the festivities, and attendance suffered mightily. The VIP experience touted by organizers didn’t exactly come through as planned, and one patron was even popped by an undercover cop for trying to sell his pass below face value. Yeah, it was that kind of weekend.

A number of festivals have left a stain on music, but very few have led to a specific type of festival getting banned in an entire country. Enter Time Warp, which took place last year in Argentina. The third annual Argentinian version of the event (which began in Germany) already had a reputation for bringing in the best in underground dance music from around the globe. However, an overcrowded venue and drugs galore inevitably became the Time Warp's downfall. Overcrowding led to attendees being trampled, and a type of ecstasy stamped with a Superman logo led to a number of overdoses. By the time emergency services were called in and the event canceled, six people were dead from either overheating or drug overdose, two event organizers were arrested, and Argentinian lawmakers were on their way to permanently banning all electronic music festivals.

Though not without its logistical difficulties, the original Woodstock was a celebration of peace and love. The 1999 version, scheduled for 30 years after the original took place, was a disaster. Whereas the original featured hippies and flower children smoking weed and taking in some of the greatest musical acts of all time, its late-'90s counterpart featured appearances by decidedly non-peaceful acts like Limp Bizkit, DMX, Insane Clown Posse and Kid Rock. A water shortage led to price gouging, a bad thing considering the temperature reached the 90s at one point. Severely understaffed security and police were hard-pressed to prevent the rampant violence and alleged sexual assaults that took place. To top it off, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers attempted to pay tribute to the original Woodstock by closing out the festival with Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” the aggressive audience responded by inciting actual fires, turning over vehicles and destroying vendor tents. Even almost 20 years later, Woodstock ’99 stands as perhaps the textbook example of how not to run a modern-day music fest.

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