Credit: Fyre (2018) film

Remember Fyre Festival? Billy McFarland Is Out of Jail and Relaunching in the Metaverse

4 min read

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PYRT Festival: The “entrepreneur” behind the totally disastrous Fyre Festival — Billy McFarland — is out of jail, and he is launching a new event, called PYRT (pronounced “pirate”).

This time around, McFarland promises things will be different. He says his new “festival” will be a mix of “online fully immersed events” and real-life events. That is, a festival in the metaverse with additional real-life activities.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Fyre backstory

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Fyre Festival, you are in for a treat. A good starting point is a Netflix documentary which was made about “the greatest party that never happened”. But here it is in a nutshell.

And this is what was promised:

This exclusive party was scheduled to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma over two weekends in April and May 2017. It was heavily marketed using influencers and celebrities. However, the event has gone down in history as one of the biggest festival failures in history.

Fyre Festival and what went wrong

According to many people who took to Reddit after the event, the “private Island of Fyre Cay” where the event was supposed to happen was actually fictional. The festival was instead set up in a car park next to a Sandals resort on Great Exuma Island.

Attendees making their way there from Miami Airport had their flights cancelled or turned around due to word getting out about the disaster. However, a few planes touched down with several hundred people aboard. These unlucky attendees were taken on an old school bus to the site.

Once there, they were shown their “luxury villas”, which were, in fact, disaster relief tents. The tents were not allocated to anyone in particular, so it was a free-for-all and people acted like savages and started stealing each other’s beds. People who couldn’t get a tent didn’t find rooms at the Sandals Resort either, as it was already full of holidaymakers.

Staff running the event quit within hours, knowing that disaster was looming. There was no food or water, so the remaining staff decide to hand out free tequila, which of course, made everything worse.

One food truck arrived with cheese sandwiches that looked like they had been made by the devil, and then they promptly ran out of food. These awful snacks become known as the “cheese sandwiches that killed the Fyre Festival.”

Fyre Festival PYRT Billy McFarlane Metaverse
The “luxury” food at the Fyre Festival.

Other Fyre problems

As night set in, there was no lighting. People got their baggage stolen. There were muggings, and feral dogs growled at campers. The beach nearby had a shark problem.

For those who wanted to make the best of it, they couldn’t — all of the major musical acts had pulled out. It was a clusterstorm of disasters.

Billy McFarland was arrested the next day and subsequently did time in jail for fraud.

Fyre Festival PYRT Billy McFarlane Metaverse
Free sharks with every ticket

PYRT Festival

Now, McFarland is back. On a mission to clear his name, he has started rolling out his new hustle.

He said in one of the promos, “Hey guys, it’s Billy McFarland. As you might know, I ‘effed around’ and because of that, I definitely found out. But I’m working on something new. This time, it’s a little crazier, but a whole lot bigger than anything I’ve ever tried before.”

While still on probation for another three years, our friend Billy goes on to say that the PYRT venture is an attempt to pay back the millions he owes to investors, vendors, and fire festival attendees.

McFarland and his plans to return to the Bahamas with this new venture did not impress the Deputy Prime Minister, who said that McFarland is still considered a felon and would be arrested upon arrival.

What is the PYRT Festival?

The venture is still quite confusing, but some information can be gleaned from his TikTok account, which he is using to spread the word.

He says, “PYRT is not a festival, it’s not an event, and it’s definitely not a metaverse. PYRT is a technology that I’ve been working on for the past couple of years called the VIDR — the Virtual Immersive Decentralised Reality.”

…. So a metaverse? Billy, here’s some breaking news, it is a metaverse.

He continues, “VIDR is a technology that brings together and connects people from around the world both virtually and physically then once they’re together, it allows people to actually affect real-world change. So, this all starts with PYRT partnering with a small remote destination where we will host a handful of artists, content creators, entrepreneurs and any of you guys who end up joining the pirate crew alongside this location.”

So a festival? On an island? Using influencers to market it? It feels a little familiar.

“We’ll launch a live virtual replica of the island where anybody from around the world can not only watch what’s happening live, but they can actually come together with their friends to affect and have the real-world adventures.”

So it’s a metaverse festival?

McFarland seeks partnerships for Fyre PYRT festival

McFarland goes on to say that while he loves Exuma Island, he was open to partnerships from other nations. “Hit me up as you guys all probably know, we’re starting everything off with a global treasure hunt. We’re bringing together people on a small and manageable scale. I ask you guys to please follow PYRT VIDR to see the technology… and join our pirate crew.”

Or, perhaps, don’t.

McFarland calling himself a ‘pirate’ is probably a red flag, ready to slap all of us in the face once again.

Does this guy deserve a second chance with his Fyre-ish PYRT festival? Of the millions he owes to investors, he has managed to pay a tiny portion back. Is there redemption here in this new “not-festival”?

I guess we will have to keep watching to find out.