As sequels go, Fyre Festival 2 — due to be held in the summer of 2024 — is as unlikely as eg: Waterworld 2: More Water, or Liz Truss having a second pop at being prime minister. And yet, as all terrible, mad things eventually do, it’s happening!
The first Fyre Festival, for those who don’t remember, was described, in the subsequent and many lawsuits, as being like The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies. Which would have been cool if it was either a smash-hit movie starring Jennifer Lawrence or a classic GCSE text. Unfortunately, Fyre Festival was supposed to be a super-luxurious A-list festival held in the Bahamas that promised attendees the chance to hang out with the supermodels Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, enjoy top-class accommodation in “futuristic geodesic domes” and the finest of foods from “celebrity chefs”. As an additional extra, you could “swim with pigs” — not a Mafia euphemism, but a genuine option for those into piscine/porcine mash-ups.
However, as social media gleefully reported, as the weekend of the Fyre Festival unfolded, it didn’t quite work out like that. The supermodels didn’t turn up, nor did the bands who were scheduled to play. The luxury accommodation turned out to be disaster relief tents, “equipped” with mattresses that had been left outside during a previous rainstorm, and the finest of foods were disbelievingly photographed and uploaded when they turned out to be a rather dry-looking bread roll and what might well be the world’s saddest piece of lettuce. And the swimming pigs? The swimming pigs clearly had the same management as the supermodels — they were a no-show too.
Anyway, long story short, the festival collapsed; the punters — some of whom had paid more than $17,000 for their “luxury packages” — had to be evacuated off the island; and the lawsuits led to the organizer Billy McFarland — who is described on Wikipedia as “a con artist” — serving three years in jail for fraud.
But now — he’s back!
“We are targeting Fyre Festival 2 for the end of next year,” McFarland, now released from jail, excitedly announced on TikTok last week. “Guys, this is your chance to get in. This is everything I’ve been working towards. Let’s f***ing go!”
“Early birds” have been offered ticket deals at $499, but those who tarry will have to cough up between $799 and $7,999 as the festival date nears.
As an additional extra, you could “swim with pigs” — not a Mafia euphemism, but a genuine option.
The thing is, weirdly in some ways, there is a market for a festival that has had no less than three, all deeply entertaining, documentaries made about what a disaster it was. “Fyre Festival” has become a byword for exquisitely hubristic failure, and it has spawned dozens of meme-able clips and quotes. In other words, it is a famous brand. It has “cut through”, as evidenced by the fact that McFarland’s announcement of “Fyre 2” was carried by almost every major news organization in the world. You can see why McFarland — as he spent his time in jail, morosely carving models of swimming pigs out of soap — thought, “I have a known commodity here. Fyre has an almost mythic status. It must have some value that I can cash in on, by … staging a sequel!”
However, the problem is that the only people who would want to go to Fyre Festival 2 would be those who are, as they say, “In it for the LOLZ.” Anyone coughing up $799 in advance to go to the sequel of a legendarily catastrophic festival is going because they want to go to a legendarily catastrophic festival. That, when it comes down to it, is the only brand McFarland has to sell.
The early-bird punters are those who are amused by the idea of posting shots to Instagram of themselves sitting in an emergency-relief tent, eating mud, then being evacuated off the island by a helicopter. They’re disaster tourists. Attending Fyre Festival 2 is the pop-cultural equivalent of those people who take selfies in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl.
McFarland’s announcement of “Fyre 2” was carried by almost every major news organization in the world.
But of course, the one thing McFarland doesn’t want to do is … helm another disastrous festival. He’s only just got out of chokey for the last one! Unless he’s genuinely, masochistically insane, Fyre Festival 2 will, in all probability, be … perfectly functional. Not in any way amazing — what top band, supermodel or, indeed, swimming pig would sign a contract with a jailbird scam artist? — but unlikely to be borderline cataclysmic. Which will, ironically, disappoint anyone willing to pay for a ticket.
What is the moral of all this? Hard to say. Don’t swim with pigs? Or, for McFarland, “Get a proper job”? Ultimately, perhaps, it’s just, “never attend a festival by a man who can’t spell the word ‘fire’”.