Altamont versus Fyre Festival: Two Music History Catastrophes That Show How Flaccid the Millennial Generation Is

It’s easy to be a self-hating millennial. Shit, it’s easy to be a self-hating anything. That is, if you have any appropriate sense of shame. But, as we’ve all seen over the past decade or so, millennials are not about self-hatred so much as self-oblivion and a heavy reliance on the internet to function on a basic level. They leave the contempt directed toward them to other generations instead. Like the one that endured the events of the Altamont Speedway Free Festival–best known simply as Altamont.

The baby boomers, too, were a festival-happy people–except they went to said music events for far purer reasons: to fuck and take drugs. The motives of the millennial festival-goer are, shall we say, vastly, diametrically opposed. That is to say, the average person is attending not for carnality–not even for the music–but solely to Instagram it or document it in some other way to show to the world that they have the social position that those watching them from their smartphones do not (but at least they have enough ranking to have a smartphone).

Which is why, theoretically, Billy McFarland’s arbitrary desire to co-found a festival with Ja Rule that targeted those millennials of a status-conscious nature (hence the invention of his nonentity idea, Magnises) was not without its germinal business acumen. But therein, again, lies a fundamental difference between the baby boomer and the millennial–in the former’s time, music festivals were not put on for profit but for the exposure of the artists, which, in turn, was expected to eventually create a profit from album sales.

And maybe that’s why at least it was slightly more understandable that the organizers of Altamont and the management of The Rolling Stones would be like, “Yeah, let’s have the Hells Angels act as security. It’ll be rock ‘n’ roll. No police.” Incidentally, the Grateful Dead was the Blink-182 parallel back then, choosing not to attend the festival when they heard things were getting weird. The parallel actually rather makes sense when considering the pussy boy nature of both bands.

Asking the Hells Angels to lightly guard the crowd and ensure no one got raped or otherwise violated was basically like asking a fox to oversee a nest in a hen’s absence. In the Fyre Festival’s case, that fox was purely an existence that money couldn’t make better, even though the entire point of attending was to feel that one’s dough is what makes his world go round. The hen is Billy McFarland and Ja Rule, while the unguarded nest is all the attendees quickly liquored up as a means of distraction from the obvious and immediate horror of it all. But then, was it really that horrible? Like more horrible than rampant fights breaking out between crowd members and somebody actually dying? No. This is what happened at Altamont. But the millennial-luring Fyre Festival didn’t even have the chutzpah for any tale of woe other than being locked in a terminal with some starved, dehydrated people and expecting gourmet food but instead getting Kraft cheese sandwiches. They wanted the luxury, they got the volunteer experience (disaster relief tent as opposed to cabana, you know).

Even those claiming this festival was not for the affluent can’t deny that it was a very expensive way to spend some time in the Bahamas for music that one wasn’t even interested in, or could have simply seen at some point on dry land. It is thus that while Altamont was just as savage, it at least had far more integrity.

And, in true millennial fashion, I speak of Altamont as though I lived through it because of my access to a Wikipedia article about it and now I’m going to Instagram another grab bag of photos from my European vacation that is being backed by non-liquid funds. On this note, I could be just as prepared for Fyre Festival next year as Billy McFarland is.