Music News: Luxury music festival descends into chaos

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Ja Rule performs in February 2017
Ja Rule performs in February 2017 (John Parra/Getty Images for Barstool Sports)

Schadenfreude flooded the internet this weekend as a festival intended to be the last word in luxury for high-spending music fans descended into chaos. Those who could afford tickets spent amounts ranging from $1,200 into the six figures to attend the debut of the Fyre Festival, advertised as a luxury music festival founded by the pop rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland with a lineup to include Blink-182, Major Lazer, and Migos.

The festival was scheduled to begin on Thursday in the Bahamas, but upon arrival, attendees immediately realized that they weren't going to get the luxurious experience they'd paid for. Those who had purchased deluxe "lodge" packages ($3,500) were turned loose in a free-for-all to grab tents and bedding — all soaked from an overnight storm. The "uniquely authentic island cuisine experience" turned out to mean polystyrene containers with two pieces of bread, two slices of cheese, and a limp salad. When word of the situation got around, all of the musical acts promptly canceled their performances.

Organizers started pouring free tequila and rosé, but it was too little, too late for disappointed attendees who thought they were going to a luxury music festival but found themselves stuck on an island with no luxury and no festival. Many didn't even have money with them, since attendees had been encouraged to store value in their festival accounts to spend via their wristbands. The local airport became what one attendee described as "an absolute zoo," with people sleeping on bare floors and trying desperately to rebook their flights.

In an understatement, McFarland admitted that "we were in over our heads." Ja Rule took what might be called an Akon position, writing on Twitter that "I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT...but I'm taking responsibility." Comedian Seth Rogen joked that he and satire band the Lonely Island were thinking about suing McFarland and Ja Rule for stealing the idea for a movie they're making about "a music festival that goes HORRIBLY WRONG."

McFarland says that despite this year's debacle, the festival will be back next year — except this time it will be in the U.S., and admission will be free. (New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork)

Metallica lend a hand to tribute band

Blistered Earth, a Metallica tribute band from Spokane, Washington, had their gear stolen after a show last weekend. The instruments were promptly replaced — but none other than the actual Metallica.

"It's pretty awesome that they would do that," said Blistered Earth drummer Shawn Murphy. "It is fairly well documented that they had all of their gear stolen way back in the day, back when they didn't have money to replace their gear, so they have first hand knowledge of how shitty this feels." (Pitchfork

Jack White details American Epic music releases

Jack White has detailed plans for a series of soundtrack releases corresponding to the documentary American Epic. The series, which is co-produced by White with T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford, tells the story of American popular music in the 1920s: a critical decade in the history of blues and country music. The documentary premieres on PBS on May 16, and it will be preceded on May 12 by the release of a five-disc box set soundtrack, a one-disc highlights collection, and individual albums dedicated to key artists including the Carter Family, Mississippi John Hurt, and Lead Belly. (Rolling Stone)

Kristen Stewart directs CHVRCHES video

CHVRCHES have released a video for their song "Down Side of Me." Directed by actor Kristen Stewart, the video is a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. The song appears both on the band's album Every Open Eye and in the compilation 7-inches for Planned Parenthood: a singles set also including tracks from artists including Bon Iver and Foo Fighters. (Billboard)

Remembering Dick Contino

Accordion icon Dick Contino has died at age 87. The New York Times describes Contino in his prime as "a show business rarity: a heartthrob accordionist who earned up to $4,000 a week in nightclubs." Contino's star fell after he was imprisoned in 1951 for evading the Korea War draft, but he did his best to make up for it by entertaining the troops overseas and went on to continue performing well into the 21st century. He inspired a well-known novella by L.A. Confidential author James Ellroy: 1994's Dick Contino's Blues.


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