Two-hour drinks lines, cancelled acts, a wild electrical storm and a chaotic stampede for the exits has seen a failed NSW festival handed the unfortunate title of “Fyre Festival 2.0” online.
Much like the infamous 2017 festival flop in the Bahamas, the Hunter Valley’s Wine Machine festival has been slammed on social media for failing to deliver on what attendees were promised.
Destructive weather hit the well-known NSW wine region on the weekend, drenching the festival – but those in attendance say the turmoil started well before the rain did.
Surrounded by some of Australia’s most idyllic wineries, the Saturday afternoon affair promised to be a day to remember for those who paid $150 per ticket.
Glamorous photos showed attendees decked out in their best festival gear, posing on the picturesque grounds of Roche Estate. Those who stuck around, tell a different story.
The unrest started early when two minibuses carrying 32 members of bar staff broke down, leaving the festival severely understaffed.
That, combined with strict NSW licensing laws that limited frustrated attendees to two drinks per person, saw tempers flare and a sense of restlessness take over.
The queues for food weren’t much better according to enraged social media users, who slammed organisers for “not giving two sh***”.
But it wasn’t until the devastating weather cell rolled over, that “Fyre Festival 2.0” was born.
“Honestly, this was such a terribly organised event, it felt like we were at Fyre Festival,” one person wrote on Facebook.
“Worst festival I’ve ever been to by a long shot. Hope it gets cancelled next year.”
Hot Dub Time Machine, the headline act many had paid to see, was cancelled when the skies started to open and dangerous mudslides started to form.
Video uploaded to Facebook shows dozens of festival goers cram into a disabled toilet to hide from the electrical storm.
Facebook users said it was about this time that a desperate rush for the exits became too much for the understaffed event to handle.
“When the storm hit, you guys were not concerned about the safety of your patrons. It was ‘how quick can we kick them out into the lightning’,” another attendee wrote.
“You legitimately shoved thousands of people out on to roads like this in the middle of an electrical storm, when Roche Estate had perfectly fine shelter that we could have used,” another wrote, sharing an image of a narrow country road with no lighting.
“So dangerous and beyond scary watching people trying to huddle down a pitch black road. I’m surprised no one was hit by a car.”
Others accused the organisers of later deleting Facebook posts that complained about the lack of rain shelter and shade.
‘This sucked’: Organisers blame government for lines
In the wake of the social media outcry, event organisers took to Facebook to initiate some damage control, blaming part of the chaos on the NSW government and their “severe licensing conditions”.
Due to the current climate in NSW, severe licensing conditions were placed upon the event limiting drinks to two per person causing unacceptable congestion at the bars.
— Vanessa Moran (@travellingvan) March 23, 2019
They defended their actions, saying the safety of everyone in attendance was their biggest concern.
“As those in attendance know, the Hunter Valley last night experienced an extreme weather system that included torrential rain and a high multitude of lightning strikes within close proximity causing an initial show stop and eventual evacuation of the event,” the statement read.
“This sucked for every single person on site. The safety of all patrons, artists and staff is of absolute priority.”
They said Hot Dub Time Machine is hoping to throw a complimentary show to make, but gave no further details as to when or where this would take place.
Were you at Wine Machine or know someone who was? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.