Harry Styles island concert evacuation draws Fyre Festival comparisons

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  • A pre-Super Bowl concert hosted by Pepsi that was intended to feature Mark Ronson, Lizzo, and Harry Styles descended into disaster and chaos after the venue had to be evacuated, sending customers into a flood.
  • Videos and tweets from concert attendees showed them walking through dangerous floodwaters onto an island off the coast of Miami where there was no available parking – so attendees had to call Ubers.
  • One attendee confirmed to Insider that the venue itself started to flood and that the show should have been canceled hours earlier when storm forecasts predicted harsh winds and inches of rain.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

What was intended to be an unforgettable night for fans of Harry Styles, Lizzo, and Mark Ronson turned into a nightmare after the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LIV Party was evacuated after midnight due to extreme weather.

The adults-only show took place on Watson Island off the coast of Miami, and was intended to be one of several events featuring A-list performers during a weekend of parties that would precede the Super Bowl. 

Ronson and Lizzo played as scheduled, but eager Styles fans hoping to celebrate the former One Direction singer’s birthday and hear songs from his latest album “Fine Line” were left disappointed, as notice appeared just after midnight that read “Extreme weather is approaching. Please calmly make your way to the exits now.” 

The resulting fiasco at the Pepsi concert drew immediate comparisons to the infamous Fyre Festival debacle 

The resulting dangerous fiasco has been compared to the infamous Fyre Festival – the would-be music festival that ended with a prison sentencing for fraud for it’s co-creator after wealthy attendees were stranded on an island.

 

The Pepsi event similarly took place on an island, and attendees were stranded after the concert’s evacuation notice as dangerous weather conditions turned into terrifying floods. Fans also questioned why the event went on for so long before the evacuation notice, as severe storms were forecast for the region early in the day on Friday. 

A video tweeted by 20-year-old Mariah Moreno showed her journey from the venue to the Uber she was able to call after the evacuation. It shows attendees walking through a flood – Moreno’s open-toed shoes are completely covered by dirty floodwater, while emergency workers can be seen trying to corral floating barricades. 

“This is what I’m dealing with right now,” Moreno says. “We’re pushing barricades. I’m walking completely in the water, ankle-deep. This is what we have to do to get an Uber.”

 

Besides the sudden evacuation into a dangerous floodzone after waiting for Styles to perform, attendees reported numerous other problems with the experience – starting with transportation. Moreno confirmed to Insider that there was no parking at the venue, making the event “Uber only.”

She and her group of five other attendees drove to a parking garage 20 minutes away from the venue from Pembroke Pines, Florida, and took an Uber to the concert. After the venue started evacuating, Moreno and her five friends began trying to request Ubers, but drivers kept canceling on them. 

“There was no safe evacuation, all we had was workers telling us if we didn’t leave now that they were going to have to force us out soon,” Moreno told Insider. “We definitely got lucky that our Uber driver didn’t mind us being soaked and was willing to pick us up, because there were cars everywhere and no organization.”

 

Several attendees on social media described shocking Uber price inflations after the concert. Moreno said her Uber to the venue from the nearby parking garage was $18 before the concert, and it shot up to $58 afterward. Once she and her group got in their Uber, Moreno said the prices shot “through the roof” to over $100.

Pepsi has since tweeted about the event evacuation, writing “As ordered by the Miami Fire Dept, Planet Pepsi Zero Sugar had to unfortunately be canceled due to extreme weather. This was a mandatory evacuation in Miami across special event venues. We are focused on ensuring everyone is safely evacuated.”

Details about ride share refunds had not been confirmed at the time of publication, though the company said in another tweet that ticket refunds would be issued automatically through Ticketmaster.

Styles also tweeted out an apology and wrote “The fire department would not let us do the show under any circumstances. Please stay safe. I’m so disappointed, and I’m sorry.”

 

The venue itself appeared insufficient for the extreme weather conditions, and attendees complained about security and staff

Moreno also said one side of the venue was open to the outside, and it began flooding the interior. She told Insider that she and other attendees were forced to evacuate from that side into deeper floodwater outside. 

A press release issued before the concert described the venue as “custom-built,” and a quote in the release from Pepsi’s Vice President of Marketing said “we are building a bold, fully-immersive event on an island that will be unlike any other experience,” so it appears that the venue was at least partially under construction prior to the show.

The Miami Herald also reported that the venue was built just in time for Super Bowl LIV weekend, and described the party venue as “brand new” and as “an enormous tent-like structure.”

 

Attendees also said the security detail at the event behaved unprofessionally, with multiple people reporting on social media that members of the security team at the venue harassed them.

One Twitter user said a security team member asked her repeatedly for her phone number, while other users said security refused to give water to attendees, and some claimed that security members taunted them and filmed people crying once the event was canceled. 

 

“Staff was horrible. When it ended they were laughing and when we asked what was happening they wouldn’t help,” Moreno said. “We had multiple staff members come up to us while we were trying to order Ubers and tell us we had to get out of the venue. I heard people asking for water at the bars and they would say no.”

One tweet also claimed that venue staff instructed attendees to throw away portable phone chargers before entering, as they weren’t allowed at the venue – which some Twitter users say led to phones dying and more people being stranded with the inability to even try to call an Uber.

“They kept us there until exactly 12,” Moreno said. “The weather warning had been out for hours at that point. They should have evacuated us when the weather wasn’t as bad and it was expected to come.”



 


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