by William Needham Finley IV™

Lord of the Fyres: Tales from a Surfyrevor

in Fyre Festival/ITBNN by

I survived the first, and most likely the last, Fyre Festival. The now infamous festival was supposed to be an event in the Bahamas unlike anything else. Entrepreneur Billy McFarland and Rapper/Actor Ja Rule (The Fast and The Furious) co-founded the festival late last year. They began promoting it in December with the help of famous influencers.

Along with this video, a website promoted a $1 million treasure hunt, luxury accommodations on a private island once owned by Pablo Escobar, exquisite cuisine, exclusive experiences like swimming with island pigs, and a music festival with soon to be announced big-name acts. This was clearly the trip of a lifetime. Three friends and I bought tickets during the first week they were on sale. We upgraded to VIP and one friend and I also bought an “Artist Pass” which included your food, drinks, backstage passes, 4 nights on the island, and “exclusive” experiences.

This was my chance to finally become BFFs with all the influencers and celebrities that would be there. I’d played the scenario out a million times in my head leading up to the trip. Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin, The Rock, and I would be hanging out backstage. One of my friends would draw attention to me by saying, “Aren’t you the guy who posts about Rise biscuits, Capital Creations anxiety pizza, and REDACTED frozen custard all the time?”


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The celebs would notice the commotion and then follow me on Instagram after getting major FOMO (Mom, that means “fear of missing out”). The Rock would say, “Bro! I loved that story about how I’d be playing football for NC State next year. Will you be in Fast and Fur9ious? We need someone that drives a Tahoe.”

“Thanks, The Rock. I’d love to, if I can fit it in my schedule,” I’d reply, playing it cool.

Emily Ratajkowksi would interrupt, “How can I try this Humdinger Juice? It looks AH-mazing.”

“It totes is, Em. Just go to their website and use the code ITB for special deals,” I’d tell her.


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“Are you the guy that created the hottest buy/sell Facebook group for moms in Raleigh?”

“It’s not just for moms, Hailey Baldwin. micITBit is for everyone. It’s a closed group but I could probably approve you,” I’d say, negging her slightly.

We’d spend the rest of the weekend swimming with the pigs and Instagramming until we got carpal tunnel. “My ITBFF Justin Miller has a pig named Theodore. Don’t worry, you’ll meet him when you move to Raleigh,” I’d say, while telling them about inside the beltline. I’d influence them into buying luxury condos at The Wade. We’d all live there together and launch a reality show on Facebook Live produced by Walk West, since TV networks will be dead in 5 years. It was going to be perfect. And then, we got to the island.

As you can see, all of my dreams were crushed when Fyre Festival turned out to be a mashup of Lord of the Flies meets Outbreak meets Locked Up Abroad. They didn’t even have LaCroix. My media empire instincts kicked in and I started documenting the event like I was the Samuel Pepys of Fyre Festival. My coverage was used in pretty much every story about the event and my Tweets were included in the $100M class action lawsuit.

You’re probably thinking, “This is great for you. You gained thousands of followers and a ton of exposure!” To be clear, I didn’t want 15 minutes of global fame. I didn’t want over 50 million impressions on Twitter. I didn’t want to spend weeks doing interviews with the LA Times, People, CNN, the Washington Post, TMZ Live, Time, BBC, NPR, Inside Edition, and dozens of other outlets. Sure, all of those things were great for my #brand, but all I wanted from Fyre Festival was a relaxing vacation and new famous friends.


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To show you what we went through, I’ve provided an in-depth account of exactly what happened. If you enjoy watching train wrecks, you’re going to love this.

Thursday, April 27th

12:000 pm – My friends and I had lunch outside of Boynton Beach. It would be our last meal not served in a styrofoam container for the next 24 hours. We left for the Miami airport and arrived with plenty of time for our 4:35 pm flight to Great Exuma. We boarded the plane and sat on the runway for about half an hour. Someone tried to open their window and this happened, which we should have taken as a sign.

Still, we continued on. We arrived on the island, boarded shuttle buses and rode for about 15 minutes. That’s when we saw this.

7:51 PM – We realized organization isn’t their strong suit.

At this point, co-founder Billy McFarland tells people with a Lodge to “go find a tent”. That went well.

Here’s the first tent that we claimed.

We returned to where we had been dropped off and asked where our tent was, again.

8:26 pm – Night had fallen. We had no luggage, but managed to find another tent.

“A disaster relief tent is where the heart is.” – Martha Stewart #fyre #fyrefest #fyrefestival

A post shared by William Needham Finley IV (@wnfiv) on

8:56 pm – Two of us without luggage split up to hunt for our belongings while our other friends stayed back to guard the tent.

The “white glove concierge luggage service” required you to use your phone flashlight and dig through hundreds of bags to find your own. Maybe this was the treasure hunt they had advertised. I started to help unload a pickup truck full of luggage and just happened to grab my bag. A true Fyre Festival miracle. I dropped my luggage off at our temporary tent and then went to cover what was going on.

I took some food back to our tent, which we were then kicked out of. We walked over to the main area where we had been dropped off and saw that people were getting on buses to leave. My friend went inside the main house and somehow convinced them to put us on a flight out that night.

We rode to the airport with about 100 others who were desperate to get off the island.

Friday, April 28th

12:15 am – We were told the plane was on the way and that our flight would be at 1:30 am.

3:47 am – We had been sitting on the plane for over two hours while the crew tried to resolve an issue with the manifest not matching up to the headcount of people on the plane.

4:34 am – The crew asks us to get off the plane so they can check us in one by one.

7:08 am – Locked up abroad. I later learned that locking the doors was standard protocol. Still odd that they use a chain and padlock though.

7:15 am – A girl loudly asks everyone in the airport “who is William Needham?”. (See the video below.) They were on to me. I remained silent. She continued, “No really. He’s in this room right now. Who is William Finley? He’s fucking hilarious.” Realizing that they weren’t going to sacrifice me to the island, I raised my hand. One girl asked, “Are you always this funny?” I just replied, “I try.”

If you recall, I had tweeted at my lawyer Stacy Miller as we boarded the plane (the first time) to leave the island at 1:47 am. He called me at about 7:30 am.

Stacy: Hey man are you ok? What is going on?

Me: I dunno, I haven’t slept in over 24 hours. I don’t really know how to make sentences.

Stacy: Are you still in the Bahamas?!

Me: I mean, I’m locked in an airport and they say a plane is coming soon, but yeah.

Stacy: Ok, well call me as soon as you land.

If you’re exhausted after reading all of that just imagine living through it. I don’t ever want to go back to Fyre Festival. I don’t ever want to go outside the beltline again. Final verdict: Fyre Festival gets 0 out of 5 beltlines.

Note: Fyre Festival organizers have allowed us to “apply” for a refund. During the application process they asked if we wanted to forgo our refund in exchange for double the number of VIP tickets to next year’s event. We all politely declined.

We still have not heard anything back after filling the forms out last week.

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