A Brief History of the Worst Festivals Ever
  • THURSDAY, MAY 04, 2017

  • Posted by: Robert Steiner

It's time to break out the sunglasses, water bottles, and your favorite bejeweled, ripped-up tank top, 'cause festival season is in full-swing, people. With more and more festivals popping up each year, music fans with money to burn now have more options than ever over which city they want to see Chance the Rapper in (seriously, look it up. Dude's playing like every festival this year). That being said, it's important to remember that sometimes, especially with new festivals, things can get a little rocky, and even devolve into downright disaster. In no particular order, here are a few instances where things didnt go as planned for these musical weekend getaways, cementing these festivals' titles as some of the worst of all time.

1. Fyre Fest, 2017



Even though this once-touted "culture experience of the decade" happened less than a week ago, Fyre Fest's place among the worst has been well cemented in record time. Plus, in the age of social media, information came out pretty quickly about how much of a miserable dumpster fire the whole thing was, which sold tickets starting at $1000. The luxury bungalows were instead disaster relief tents with mattresses inside. The celebrity chef-prepared food was bread, processed cheese, and a sad-looking salad. Feral dogs roamed the mud-soaked campsite, and security guards allegedly beat up a festival-goer and took his wallet. Co-founders Ja Rule and Billy McFarland promised full refunds, but also offered fans the chance to apply their tickets to next year's Fyre Fest instead. Call it wishful thinking, because on top of the three lawsuits and counting filed against the duo, the Bahamas have also banned them from hosting any events on the islands. At least the festival's name was accurate, considering the whole thing went down in flames.

2. Glastonbury, 2005 (aka 'Farmagedon')



England's biggest festival has a long history, in true British fashion, of keeping calm, carrying on, and keeping the show going even if hellfire rains from the heavens. Little too much rain and mud for your taste? Put on a poncho, shut up and watch Adele sing about the man who wronged her, for Chrissake. This mindset was put to the biggest test in 2005, when thunderstorms and flash floods essentially turned the grounds into a massive, waist-deep river. A couple of the stages were struck by lightning, tents were flooded and swept away by the water, and millions is damages were reported by the festival's end. I say "by the end" because, true to form, the whole thing kept going as scheduled once the skies cleared, and closed out with roughly 130,000 damp Brits still in attendance, only nine reported injuries, and no deaths. The description for the video above even sums up the whole thing as "Another classic Glastonbury!"

3. Woodstock '99



The biggest crime of the 30th anniversary celebration in honor of the 1969 event of the same name wasn't the horrible location (an open, shade-less air force base in the middle of July), the massive amount of property damage, or the constant stream of violence throughout the weekend. The most atrocious act of malice was that someone actually thought booking Limp Bizkit for a festival about peace and love was a good idea. What'd you think was gonna happen when Fred Durst whined his way through "Break Stuff?" His meathead fans were going to freaking break stuff, especially since someone passed out 'Peace Candles' that were quickly used as 'Arson Torches.' Even though the conditions were far from perfect at the original Woodstock, it was still an overall success because of how people came together and helped each other survive the mud and rain, ending the weekend with minimal to no damages or injuries. Woodstock '99, on the other hand, is remembered as an event filled with mean-spirited people, burning hot weather, and a horrible reminder of how much Nu Metal was a crime against humanity.

4. Altamont Free Concert, 1969



It's as the old saying goes: "Lightning doesn't strike twice." That doesn't mean people won't try, as the Rolling Stones billed their free festival in California's Altamont Speedway as the "West Coast Woodstock," hoping to keep that brotherly hippie love going before the 60s closed out. The event, which featured the Stones, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane among others, might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but there should have been so many more questions asked before organizers went through with it. Why did people think the Rolling Stones, a band known for regularly starting riots at their shows, would be the best representatives for a peaceful gathering? Why was infamous biker gang Hell's Angels hired as security, and why were they paid mostly in beer and LSD? Why didn't the whole thing just stop when a Hell's Angel knocked out Jefferson guitarist Marty Balin onstage during the band's set? We'll never know these answers, be we do know that the event ended with 18-year-old Meredith Hunter being stabbed to death by Angels after pulling out a gun. The show has gone down in history as the "Anti-Woodstock," and is often considered the symbolic end to the late 60s hippie era.

5. Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival, 1972



The one thing worse than festivals trying to be Woodstock, arguably the most significant template for the modern music event, are festivals trying to outdo Woodstock. With a lineup that included the Eagles, the Allman Brothers, and Black Sabbath as headliners, it almost seemed like the folks putting on Erie Canal were actually going to pull it off. That is, until the mayor of Evansville, Indiana banned the concert at the last minute, forcing the grounds to move to the swamp-infested Bull Island, a location that was far from ready to host around 300,000 people. Rain covered the site in mud, vendors quickly ran out of food, and multiple acts canceled their sets, which all resulted in an island filled with hungry, drug-fueled, pissed off people. Riots ensued, people were mugged, cars were looted and overturned, and the main stage was torched to ash. Not exactly "3 days of peace & music," now was it?
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