Where there’s a festival, there’s a chaos we love to watch unravel. This time it came courtesy of the Revolve Festival.
The invite-only party hosted by the fashion retailer, Revolve, was held in La Quinta, California on the same weekend as the Coachella Festival which, in the past, has hosted legendary acts such as Beyoncé, Prince, and Daft Punk. While Revolve Festival isn’t connected to or affiliated with the annual hot-ticket weekend, it attempted to piggy-back on its credibility, exposure, and celebrity attendance by drawing revelers to their event also held in the desert, some distance away from where Coachella takes place.
What Really Went Down
Unlike Coachella, tickets to the Revolve Festival were never available to the general public. Revolve Fest is a branded event exclusive to celebrities and social media influencers with activations and special guest appearances (Kim Kardashian was in attendance this year), and surprise performances. The annual event promised a big return after its hiatus due to the pandemic.
The highly-coveted ticket was offered to influencers by Revolve, inviting them to the event which took place on April 16 and 17. In addition to being a strictly invite-only event, Revolve pumped up exclusivity by not disclosing the secret location. Festival goers were forced to meet in the California desert heat and await a designated shuttle bus that would whisk them away to the top secret location.
@averiebishop I hope you made it to the festival @kate bartlett !! #revolvefestival @revolve ♬ original sound – Aves
How it all Happened
The first few images and videos of the event that hit social media feeds were enviable, but soon enough the situation unfolding at the desert meeting spot was quickly proving to be a disaster as influencers reported on the drudgery to their followers. Reports included wait times for shuttle buses that hovered around three hours with little information from organizers or security. This devolved into accounts of disgruntled influencers shoving, elbowing, and cutting the line in a chaotic rush to get onto a shuttle bus. Many also reported their concern that food or water was unavailable to them while they awaited a shuttle and some even chose to leave altogether.
According to some social accounts, it appears that a tier of VIP influencers were given preferential access and boarded the shuttles first. As the conversation made its way to TikTok, users sensed a certain familiarity reoccurring and began to refer to Revolve Festival as giving off “Fyre Fest vibes,” drawing unfortunate comparisons to the festival that promised an island full of models and fun, but instead turned into chaos, emergency refugee tents, and those unforgettable cheese sandwiches.
Online spectators caught a glimpse of the misery when influencer Remi Bader posted this video of herself in a van being driven along a bumpy, dusty road with music that reflected the tone of the festival–chaotic, messy, and hilarious.
So, why did this happen? In a public statement, Revolve said, “As the festival was reaching capacity late Saturday afternoon,” the statement continues, “shuttle access to the venue was limited in order to remain in compliance with safety requirements causing longer wait times for entry and resulting in some guests not being able to attend the festival.” Essentially, it seems like Revolve is dancing around whether or not they unintentionally overbooked the event. For a basic summary of the Revolve Festival, watch this TikTok.
View the Vibe’s First Hand Account
Elise Purdon, a DJ and content creator in Toronto attended Revolve Festival, and gave a first-hand account of the events to View the Vibe. Her enthusiasm for the event quickly turned into disbelief when she realized the situation had become unmanageable.
Elise received an application to attend the festival a month before the event. She was accepted and officially received her invite. Her expectations for the festival were high. Having been an attendee in 2019, before the festival came to a halt due to COVID-19, she had once enjoyed what they had to offer and was thrilled to return. However, this time around, things were chaotic from the beginning. Though hopeful, she, along with many influencers who attended Revolve festival and Coachella in the past, acknowledged that hosting a large-scale event in an era of COVID would add to the challenges of successfully pulling off such an already daunting undertaking.
“My expectations were high because I had been before and had so much fun,” said Elise. “It’s not really about the music though–it’s about enjoying the experience, taking a million photos, and enjoying a lot of free drinks,” she added. “But that’s only fun if you can take pictures. The reality this year is that I never made it into the festival.” According to Elise, most people couldn’t get in because of the failed shuttle service.
Elise was at the shuttle stop waiting for hours. At that time, she chatted with the security team surveilling the area. They mentioned that they were young marines who volunteered to help because Revolve would be making a donation to their unit. “I asked them why they were still there since it was getting so messy and they had lost control of the crowd,” Elise said as she described her experience. The marines told her they also had nowhere else to go. “They’d been transported to the pick-up area and were 2.5 hours away from home. Just like us attendees, they were stuck,” she said.
When asked if organizers had reached out to her yet since the chaos that erupted she replied, “ No! I haven’t heard anything. I did get some random pants in the mail though.” As she continued, Elise shed light as to why many waited for hours despite losing hope of entry. She explained, “I signed a contract saying I’d post while I was there, so they may reach out about that, but it’s not my fault that I couldn’t get in.”
Too Many People, Not Enough Shuttles
Like so many observers who followed what was happening online, Elise had her own suspicions why Revolve Festival turned out the way it did. “I think they invited more people than they were allowed to have inside,” she said, “and the shuttle system didn’t have enough staff or proper security. There were different types of wristbands that required people to stand in different lines (some people had paid to attend) and it didn’t seem the staff knew who was who and mixed up the lines.” From her perspective, it appeared the shuttles were intended to prioritize the people who claimed they had paid, but didn’t. Among this confusion, attendees grew disgruntled and line-jumping occurred. According to Elise, people eventually gave up on the security gates and mobbed the buses by banging on their doors. In return, the bus drivers wouldn’t open the doors. Additionally, food or water was unavailable to the attendees–some who had been standing in the heat for over five hours.