A whole lot of nothing. That’s what. The highly anticipated VestiVille, meant to have taken place this past weekend (June 28-30) in Lommel, Belgium was canceled mere moments before the festival was to begin.
In its very first year, the European hip-hop festival boasted a star-studded lineup including Cardi B, Migos, A$AP Rocky, and Future. Excited hip-hop fans had flown from all over Europe and dished out plenty of cash to enjoy a three-day festival in the Belgium town.
Fyre Festival 2.0
Is this story ringing a little familiar? Festivalgoers and the people of the Internet were quick to draw comparisons of this year’s VestiVille to the 2017 disaster that was Fyre Festival. You remember Fyre Festival: the much-hyped luxury music festival set to take place on a glamorous island in the Bahamas, studded with celebrities and supermodels that ended in a metaphorical dumpster fire. After two hit documentaries on Netflix and Hulu, the imprisonment of its co-founder, and viral photographs of the food being served, Fyre Festival will go down in history. The Internet never forgets.
It’s unlikely the events that unfolded at VestiVille will be soon forgotten either. The word of artists dropping out of the festival quickly spread when A$AP Rocky posted on his Twitter that he would no longer be performing due to security and infrastructure issues that had not been cleared. He added in his Tweet that “the promoters told me it would be handled but unfortunately for you and me they didn’t”.
Festival canceled after it started
In addition to A$AP’s tweet, the official VestiVille Twitter and Facebook accounts posted that “…at 5:00 PM the mayor of Lommel decided to not let VestiVille start. After consultation with the security services and ASAP Rocky’s security officer, it was decided that the safety of the artist and the public could not be guaranteed.” The statement went on to say that the organization would begin to look into refunds. Ticket agent site Festicket states on their website that after looking into the reasons the festival was canceled, they will work to issue refunds to all ticketholders.
However, the hundreds who had neglected to check their social medias and showed up at the festival park weren’t met with the Instagram-worthy themed attraction areas that were promised. Instead, they were met with police with dogs escorting them off the grounds. Apparently, the park resembled nothing of a festival that was about to start, with unfinished stages and no food vendors in sight. Some described the scene at the park as scary posting videos angry attendees throwing items at festival workers and chanting crowds.
Although a predominantly hip-hop festival, we did sneak a glimpse of what would’ve been a DJ stage in DJ Jewel’s behind the scenes vlog that shows him and two friends as the only people, let alone artists, on the festival grounds. The DJs on the lineup seem to spin mostly hip-hop, with a little Eurodance in the mix.
Disgruntled festivalgoers haven’t been shy when detailing how much they spent on this much-anticipated weekend. Twitter user @HarveyBordley tweets “#vestiville wait two hours to get in and it’s cancelled, spent 800 pound in total and came all the way from the uk are u mad. And apparently no refund? The debt is mad.” In a comment on VestiVille’s Facebook page, Jamaar Allen writes “One person in my group flew in from Dubai. One flew in from Chicago. I came from Germany. And we spent 1k on the house we rented. I need my damn money back.”
So are security concerns on the festival grounds being investigated? Not quite. Belgium news outlets announced that the prosecutor’s office had instead opened an investigation on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, and breach of trust. Siblings and co-founders Ravuth and Aymira Ty, along with their partner Nik Chawda were arrested following the cancellation and are still being held by police.
Some Twitter users say red flags should’ve been raised when Ja Rule was listed to perform. Ja Rule, a co-founder of Fyre Festival, denies any link to the criminal acts that ensued at the notorious festival. His co-founder, Billy McFarland, was not so innocent and was sentenced to six years in prison after admitting to defrauding investors over $US26 million.
Where does this leave festivalgoers and their trust in new festivals? Dare we branch out and try new things if the only thing we end up experiencing is a whole lot of debt? We thought we learned from Fyre Festival, but it seems only the founders of VestiVille were taking notes.
In Europe and looking for a great festival that will actually happen? Check out these upcoming festivals.