Bull Island – The Fyre Festival of the 70s


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Hey man: what's up, have you ever heard of the erie canal, soda pop festival, okay, so youri canal yeah, i've obviously heard of yeah yeah, it's like eerie, it's a connectit s, a it's a hand canal. It's like ome to the econe know. So it's like yeere and e. Would you call it soda pop festival? Yeah? It also goes by the name of bull island. Stop your s biggest step. What is this? Is this the first fire fest i'm? Yes, i really yeah. This is this? Is the fire fast long before fireface? This is a fire fast before the fire fast guy was even born, really yeah. I was later than this is this. Is this is billy mcfarland's grandpa? I i got im with you or related i'm going to do it. Twenty three there's four hundred thousand people here we are in new town and feel like this giant on fire of catering trucks. You know, what's earing out by your eyes, kids, that girl's got her pins out things a s. I s her like a fire fit like where they just the plan. I thing it is fall ar one huand nine hundred and seventy two, the ears now soda pop festival was yeah, the fire fest before fire fest, the fire fest of the s, the five fest of the s, okay, yeah and jo rule was still there, though, to rule he was yeah. He was an early investor yeah. It was actually his first investment where you think you? U learn his lesson but yeah, but fifty years later he said, i'm gonna. Try to i i fifty years i still look pretty young no yeah. So this was a festival founded by a guy named tom dunkin and bob alexander tom and bob bob and tom bob, an which sounds like your studio, typical stoner der du o who's, going to screw something up, yeah and that's exactly what happened actually so it works out perfectly. It happened in griffin, indiana his little back story on this. So the s the early. They were this magical era of the birth of the festival, the music festival yeah had it happened before this would stock stock, yeah, yeah, woodstock kind of opened the doors and everyone was like. Oh my gosh, this i was yeah. Nobody had ever really done. Music festivals, like that before there was big concerts, but there was never this multi day event where there was seventy lest artists of all time. Yeah tell me about it, but billiam revivals, oh my gosh. In like the s and s this guy's been doing, you know, tillygram was doing winter jam before biliran winter jam come on and the newsboys were opening, for they still had the drum thing in the s yeah i a yeah and michael tate was also still there. Somehow, no, it was. It was a relatively new thing and seeing this successo, what did what stock catapult people into doing festivals and then kind of so people saw this success. I were like what stocks and then all these local promoters, which even promoters was lingers yeah. No, you thought you're gonna get past it, but yeah. I got you okay promoters. We don't even need brick and mortar buildings anymore. We got prickin, we got bricking for mortars, so the promoters all across the country started, saw wood stock and they said hey. We can. This looks fun and like it could make a lot of money, so i'm going to try it in my town and so that's exactly what happened. A bunch of these, like small town promoters, were like i'm going to put a together a wood stock in my own town, and most of them were like relatively unassuming ca. They had a few thousand people show up and it was like a fun time. Whatever you know not a big deal. Well, these two guys tom tom duncan and bob alexander, they figured hey. We've been doing this for a while en per morton a lot of stuff they've been right, we kind of know what we're doing our yeah they're, like we're professionals, sort of porforio als, yeah we're out here professional promoters. We can, we can throw out a festival, all right, which i get a few propane tanks for paine tanks. Okay, i'm i'm getting over this already, so that the idea is as old as time. You know. Festivals have been around for a long time. The the ancient greece ancient grisoni ans did it. I was just turing to as tim as possible, which also your name's, not tim, any more to me. Yeah. There was a youtube comment today. I don't know if you saw this alex or youtube common today that quoted him, that they had a quotes and then, instead of putting his name put the guy, that's not jaren and i think that's, oh yeah. It's pretty good! I'm sorry that people know who i am. You know i apologize that i an you know, i'm the face of this. I don't i don't care whatever it's. I had a moment like that, though, what a guy commented. I want to reagan's instagram pictures yesterday she posted a picture and a guy commented and said: are you still with that guy and it's i get for all the? Are you still with that girl jokes? He make us till with that girl, though shut. I was like, okay, and so with that anyway, i can. I tell you about this now wow, so these these promoters. They had recently done a pretty big festival in in indiana in a small town in indiana, okay, and i we well well. I mean the festival went well but to the local community it went very poorly because what happened was a bunch of young music fans came which in the sevens meant they were hippies and met that they were doing drugs and the presence of drug in eration, but okay, okay, but the presence of drug users in their town ruined their lives for these people in indiana because they existed and they were close because they saw them and they were like yeah, so the the local as it created addicts in the town yeah. When nothing happened, they know they just saw them and they were like those people exist. Yeah and- and it was an outrage for the local, oh yeah, they protested the festival, obviously yeah and so which side bar that first festival. They called the ice cream social which i just is just so cool. There's just something about that era where they just came up with lame names for stuff. You know ice cream, social yeah, like you're gonna. I don't know anything that ends us social, it's something you don't want to go to. You know yeah yeah, that's like what the youth groups are doing. Like the word youth gruppin. You know there is i social yeah. You want to come down my ice cra solo, my cre, so why i so? Why didn't people go to your youth group? When you were a youth pastor, you never use the or social in your events, but people still didn't show up. Why is it? Okay, no je, saying you're blaming it on this on the name. You know whatever i o i'm done with this maybe be were they drew this festival and indiana was like we wish you weren't around. We wish you just didn't come so they told them. You can't do that again and they was is in the same area yeah. So it's like southern southern indiana. So then they picked a location a little outside of that town, a town called chanler indiana a book, their next big festival. So this was kind of the first one was kind of like there there. I thought the towns would enjoy a festival because it does bring in a lot of business yeah unless that business is people that you don't like, and that was the problem. Is they didn't like the hippies because they yeah they don't understand why people are opposed to starbucks coming up in some towns, they're like it's going to bring a bunch of yeah harry armpit liberals around exactly yeah we're going to see their pits, so they blocked them your eyes, kids, that girl's got her pits out. I didn't hear it. I didn't hear it he taking out my mouth, okay, so so okayso to tom and bob after there. You know the bob and tom is like a radio show either it's not that, and but also you know that you say names an athletic order, not this time. So you can't keep saying tom and bob. I think it sounds better tom and bob does it. How does it go tom and bob cause? I guess you say tom and jerry and that's on the alphabetic order. How do you decide what your name goes? First, how did you imbreed aside this a real question? What do you mean when you and bred talk about us yeah? How do you refer to me in reagan? You and reagan? Yeah, i mean exall hey. Should we invite? Well, you guys never say that it was a really good dig this good. I think it depends on the context like if it's a story featuring jaren and reagan's the ancella, then it's jana reagan, but if it's a story or vocari just briary, okay, freaking, say half the words of the english language but you're pulling that out your. But aren't you jeez t and i think it's context, it's cais key all right. We need to talk about this feaking festival. I understand we're doing it, but i'm just trying to figure out so tom and bob were going to put on this festal. They approach to their town. Now, as the other town know, the other town was pissed yeah. So after after this other town was like words spread were started to spread but spreading slowly, it's the s these, these things spread slow, so were spreading, but it's kind of slow but yeah, but it's spreading slowly, and so they book their erie canal, soda pop festival, bit of a mouthful for griffin for a tandler, india, coca or chanler indiana, and they were going to it- was going to be at this race track in than ther indiana, okay, and so they started putting all this resource into it, investing in it, building portapotties building locations for food, clearing out spaces for tents and parking like er investing in making this an a and all of this is happening. So what's the timeline for throwing a festival? How much time do you need to set up? I don't know. I actually don't know what the time lanes i here setting up already you're saying they're puting portapotties up, but doing all that stuff. That means that they are gearing up for the festival yeah. It was a little different back then, because i don't think there was portapotties, as i think, as we think of them. Like they're like out they're, building or building so i mean it's probably a little a little a couple months out at this point: real yeah, it's not going to plan a whole festival months out. Yeah. Do you do that now? Yeah? I think i think people who are booking festivals. I think that you're booking the talent and stuff like- but i mean like as far as like setting i'm saying like actual set up yeah setup- is probably you think crew rolls in for k, coachella, probably like a week or two out o nowadays, but like it t e s. Yes, the ey, so they're just slower and everything the power tools and it's indian yeah like if you guys, spend half your day being like what are we doing here again? It's a festival: okay, it's okay! I'm supposed to come! My mom! I go home, don't know what that is. A cause got a dictionary. So what is the antelao here a so so they started. They start so we're setting up yeah and then word gets to t e, the government of tanler of what happened at the freeman festival and ice cream, social, that's, the full name, freedom, festival and ice cream, social yeah. All right see, i see now they see like two very different events: yeah it was did not go great and they train. There was like oh, you guys, are planning something bigger, so you're going to bring a lot more of undesirable peoples to our town, undesirable peoples, so tandler after a couple court battles with them, they ended up being like yeah. You can't do the festival here and they had already invested all this in competing the festival there. So they start rapidly trying to find a new location. But now word is spreading faster to all the stranding counties and all the counties are like now can't do that here, you're not going to do that here. We don't want you here, and it was primarily because of the type of people that festival attract. I mean it wasn't just that. I mean you've been to a festival. It's it gets pretty traits a it's kind of trashy like things get messed up, it's dirty and there is like a bit of a crime problem. There is the revenue that comes from the tourism, but it's like a one weekend thing and then you just kind of left to pick up the pieces yeah, and so i think i think it's a little of both that the mess that it brings and the people that it brings and so pretty much all of southern indiana blocked them from putting on this festival, and at this point, tom and bob had invested seven hundred thousand dollars in one thousand nine hundred and seventy two yeah into this event. So they're like this has to happen and they're like we've sold. Fifty five and tickets we've invested seven hundred thousand dollars. They were like this event has to happen. Who were the main x going to be so this? So the lineup was pretty amazing. They had here's. Some highlights black sabbath, joe cocker almond brothers, chechen chang, fleetwood mac. Let's see here's the doors, the eagles s, it was a massive show. There's, like hundreds of artists on this on this line up yeah and they're, some of the biggest names at the time aren't in this line up. So it's going to be, i mean a massive massive event, yeah and so ther's spending all this time and energy trying to figure out okay, where the heck are we going to put this festival? We cannot not do it because we put we've based in also if you sold fifty five thousand tickets, already yeah yeah, you sollte you rolling up to a town and being like yeah excuse us. He can fifty five thousand people come here, so what they did is they got cheeky. They found this spot that sits right on the border of indiana and illinois. It's called bull island and it's a strange sort of geographical anomaly, because over time this illanti nois indiana border was separated by the wabash river. But what happened is long after that was established at that was where the border was the river changed courses, and so there's this one spot where it curved up into illinois and so technically this island. It was not really an and it's not really an island yeah. Technically, it's an illinois, but it's on the indiana side of the river, because the river changed courses, and so they said hey, so we can book this event in indiana and people from don't have to cross the river to get there. But it's in illinois and the people in illinois and the time they didn't have bridges. So they couldn't do it across the river. No bridges hadn't been invented right, you don't want fifty five thousand people swimming a cross or whatever you don't want that it's chaos, so they so they said: okay, we're going to put it here, and so they contacted the owner of the land and they agreed to it. They, the owner, was like well we'll rent it out, but they were smart at this point. Yeah they s si. What do you do out there? It's a family reunion, that's what i've been told if you're planning a wedding, really yeah yeah the different lest one of my friends, is in a wedding band and he says that as soon as they hear the word wedding like they charge like for grand, but if they'll play for like a you know, get together a sam or union is like fifteen hundred bucks eats a family reaon we're going to i mean some people are going to get like legally connected for life there, but i mean some fancy. People are going to kiss on that end. But that's like ten minutes. Yeah t t that's a ten minutes. I don't worry about that yeah and so, but they were but tom and bob got smart, and so they said, look everybody's against us the whole world's against us. You know this is this. Is what the lord told us what's going to happen? We be persecute going to walk around indiana seven times an there all. Let us do this music festival. No, so they said we aren't going to announce where this is happening until the week end of the event, because they won't have enough time to organize and stop it at that point, and so they were like, so they literally they waited and here's labor day weekend, the weekend of the event yeah and they're, setting up on bull island and meanwhile, they had taken out ads in the local chicago radio station and a full page ad in the rolling stone, and so people from all over the midwest are hearing this ad, because this radio station was a prominent radio station that had range to cover multiple states and now people all over. The midwest are saying that sounds cool. There's a lot an i like, and i mean like what else am i going to do? You know i've got one tv channel and one radio ca and one wife that i hate. So i was just leave her here. You know, and i will that was still a time where you could leave your family and never talk to him. A yah we've talked about this yeah, i'm missing. You know you were alive no, but i mean, like i missed the abbe bis idea. I missed the idea of being able to go. You know i e trap. I wish i could disappear. I don't know sortons or last night and elwha if i like slipped out a podcast host yeah now that we've ever been any kind of like we're not like, but just like tim still trapped on now, i can't you can escape t time when yadu laptop it it's our brand. I can't get it walk in hey, don't genk! Atout of my hand, you break it. You're gonna, you're, gonna, plug this, the bates gonna die, is going to rot the episode okay get out of here, hey thanks for being here for things alone last night. If you want bonus, content, early access to episodes and a whole lot more, including a discord channel. We have that available to our patron supporters to sign up for that and for or info text till in to six six, eight six six. So so the weekend is going to memel people are start coming and everybody thinks the event is still in chandler. At that race track because they haven't announced that has changed. Yet, where is, does the added rolling stone and all that yeah says chandler yeah because they booked it before chane lot o? I thought you were saying that the new advertisement said it was at this place now they have not announced where it's at now. That's a funny thing we could do is we could just do a fake festival in blood mauburn in missouri, with just a ton of harry hippies. You know i'm saying just and they're just walking around a like: hey, where's, the festival and everyone's like what what are you talking about? Oh, i thought you were saying that people mamar didn't understand what they were saying they were like. Were the vessel? Are you speaking mews that where's the festival you're going to have to slow this down? I really thought: that's what you were saying: okay, why i was like listen, i'm we're not going to make fun of mountain o. It's come out from town come on, but we should do that. We should flood a town, that's really funny, with just an insane yeah yeah petition, your town in the comments. Let us know if we want to whatever gets the most votes yeah. Where do it's like it's like how people will like swat twitch streamers, we should festival a town. We should just yeah. My town got a festival like three years ago. This is seriously like the new thing. That's going to happen on take talk. I'm telling you right now that we're going to put on advertising for massive festivals, we're going to promote a we're going to pomorani al and be more is going to show up through that's hilarious, right down, write it down. I don't know where big type fake type and thank you for writing it down. That's how i'm seriously when i'm telling you. I think this is a really funny idea. I think it's hilarious. We should do it so people show up and chandler yeah people shop and chan there. Fifty five thousand yeah fifty five thousand people show up, and she in there here's the thing taylor realized at this point. They said. Oh, we canceled this event and these people are still here and there's now now, there's no effect and the like, so they hired a puppy ter ye got a entertain these people. Okay, there's that one guy who like plays the flute- and he just kind of like hang out in the park and yeah, there's something i in my high school who says, he's a comedian. He can come so so literally like the weekend rolls in and as everybody's coming in they're flooding chanter in the neighboring town, tom and bob a riding around at a pickup truck. We moved it, it's foliis me he. How do you are you trying to corral that crowd somewhere else? No like out a new radio ad and they said hey the the erican al sort, o pop festival has moved to ball island. Here's how you get there. How far away is that i don't know how far it was, and so everybody were in a half hours. I don't think it was that far. I think it was probably an hour away. You know it's a tive close to where they were. I don't know exactly where, and so now all these people are like a sweet cool: let's go over there, so they they're asking their airbnb hosts. How do we get to? Has there anyway? We paid for like three the whole weekend, but can we just? Can we get out early? Can i get? I know i like don't and come on. Look at me, okay. I know you're charging a big cleaning fee to keep your rate down right. Then, okay, forty five dollar rate, but a seventy dollar cleaning feed come on. You think we're dumb. We see it through you. We see right through you, yeah most of them actually just left in the town park. Sound makes a lot of sense. That's why i didn't want them there colly, so they all leave here's what happened. Thanks for your hospitality, we still trash your town. So here's as happened. They were estimating a crowd of fifty five thousand, because that's how many tickets they sold right, but there was also a bunch of people who showed up to buy tickets at the door. Oh, no and estimates say that the the crowd that showed up ended he being somewhere between two hundred and fifty thousand and four hundredthousand people. Oh my gosh, so this this event was planned for fifty five sand people and on the bare minimum five times that showed up so to say they were unprepared for what happened as an under statement. We got your more ice cream, an ice cream for these e social is going to fall apart fast, it's going to melt before we get to the end of the line, all right so sinking a lines, but you know what happened yeah, and this is a true story. Actually, it happens on bull island. Okay is that there was a boy there who had a basket of fish and bread. You with me, keep god yeah, yeah, yeah and and all those people walked away, fed, fed full full and they had left overs. Oh my gosh! How isn't that the mystery all right? Yeah! You know that makes a lot of sense. Speaking of mysteries, i want to shout out a review real, quick. Here's. Here's a review. Someone said: hey man. Have you ever heard of tillin, because it's awesome except seriously don't listen to the set your job without headphones. Tim's laugh is that of a beautiful, honking, goose or parrot some kind of bird. It's honest. I best always makes me laugh, but my co workers don't like it. I may now from experience so listen to me on full volume at work thanks for watch that and to your co workers that left one star reviews that guys what if that's, what someone did so i was like my coworker listens to this annoying podcast every day. So now i follow the like what if you follow it out of vengeance, yeah as your a podcast okay, and i leave a one star review and i down i download every heavery thing. I followed the guy to his house once or like a so. You said line this event. The the location they chose had two roads leading in and out of it, and so traffic was backed up for twenty miles coming into bull island and it was so bad that most of the concert goers ended up just saying screw, it will walk, and so they just pulled over into the shoulders and i'm i am not twenty mile i kid you not. Cars were lined up on the shoulder six seven cars deep down into the ditch for miles, because people were just like this traffic isn't going to in the median in the ditch on the highway in de ble, island everybody's, just always like yeah, i give up and walking and they just rolled in it's the eeriest thing of the erie canal otobu. I thought you were going to go with due people were so backed up in traffic that people started looking at the housing market there- and i i guess we live here now. I guess we live. I never gonna get my car out. My car stays there's four hundred thousand people here we are a new town. This is a cow towns for that's how it starts it. All starts like this: can you imagine if two hundred fifty thousand people showed up from malbourne in missouri? Look at that and they just left them there for the whole weekend for off labor day weekend? They just ditched them and like that's a time where car alarms, weren't really a thing. You know if you forgot where you park, there was nothing on the high whero mile mark or hundred and sixty two got it. Okay, remember that. Remember that guys, guys. Remember that my mark one sixty two two and at the end of the weekend one of was like oh gosh i had to in it. I had to it had a two: it wasn't til. It was three i'm telling you, okay, candice, whatever right wasn't even my idea to come out here anyway, yeah i didn't want to go to this festival. It's got a weird name. The ice cream socialism is like, i imagine, annoying festival. Girls are still there in the s, so they get there and the show starts. Bands start playing, but cotago started to realize pretty quickly that this wasn't what they expected. Okay, probably the first realizations in was the bathroom situation. Oh yeah, i mean, if you plan, for it yeah, so i mean at the tale as go amount of they had built fifty toilets right that they were playing on music, one two for every thousand people. That's at the original point. That was the original plan yeah, and so they were, they had built the fifty and a they were relatively prepared at the tame the race way. Well, here's the thing they moved this, they pitied weeks, yeah but they're next to a river, so they had six toilets for two hundred and fifty thousand people on this whole swap of land and one of them was reserved for the bands yeah you actually might be right, and so what in the writer they have their own bad or own bathrooms. So what ended up happening? Is people just found an area on the edge of the island? That became this massive public field bathroom and it earned itself the nickname the turdis, because that's what it became is just like a swamp of human excrement and they call it the turn fields. You know and that's when people started to realize this, isn't this isn't going to be good something's off about this place, but we had to walk seven miles yeah. What's ironic about it? Is the road leading in that road was literally finished that week in construction because they had built like a logging operation? They just open literally just built that riot and it's already to the festival, is like its closing. The dart over people are pooping on it. Anything about that guys! Yeah! You like those road. It's now the third fields, the turd curb, if you will so as the festival starts to roll out to drink more water, a lot of the a lot of the big name, artist on the festival start dropping off, because two reasons wellen boss couldn't make it yeah well, probably actually like we're not going to care the drum set seven months, but probably the biggest one being the bigger bands were like hey you're, paying us for fifty tozer people and there's a quarter of a million here. You need to pay us more and when the promoters had it, they were all right. When with him, i wouldn't why couldn't they well, because they not get revenue from these extra people, i mean they probably could but they're greedy. I don't know, i don't know why, but they just didn't they use por. They were like. We would. Rather you just not play. My guess is that they actually couldn't i'll bet that this was a. I bet they took a big loss on this moving i mean they had a bunch of extra people show up, but moving that m you want. You know how much they charge for tickets, twenty to twenty five dolars really yeah, so i mean that's pretty pricey back then i know, but i'm looking at the numbers of like i don't know, i mean they probably had a lot come in. You know they were just breaking, even maybe i don't know because they spent seven hundred thousand before they moved it yeah. So i don't know i don't know i haven't done the math, but for whatever reason they declined to pay for these people when they wanted. The increase and so that frustrated a lot of the concert goers because all of a sudden, there was just massive time slots of the event that were just an empty stage, and there was one stage, because this was early festival and so here's two hundred and fifty housen people just staring at an empty stage for well what it's going to be a fifty minute set, and so they didn't have phones, you they couldn't they couldn't play candy cross. All they could do is just stare at each other's heads, the back of each or sans. That's what they did back then, when everyone tares the same direction. What are the people in the front row? Look at the is the lofty stage you broke way too early. He didn't even get all the way cycle through the anger, so yeah, so since this is starting to go downhill really quickly, yeah well, the other issue. Another big issue was the food situation. They had booked one meal included in their ticket. Now it was extra you had to pay for it, but they had booked one caterer for the event race, catering who expected to cook for fifty thousand people. They were like you got to pay us on el. No can do so. Reece catering brought a couple mobile food trucks with them, but they pretty quickly couldn't keep up with the demand we trucks like in the s where they servili hamburgers and stuff, or they like, because in my mind, they're serving like home, cooked meals like they're out there just like we got a meat loaf truck. You know no, it's burgers prize, okay, but here's the thing they couldn't keep up with it with the demand, and so they had to raise prices because they like we don't have enough supply for how many people are here. This is supply into man, issues you know, and so they like, we have to raise our prices or else we're going to get sold out two hours into this event. Two hundred dollar hamburger fries. Well, yeah. They were charging ten dollars for a hamburg, an fries which is equivalent to sixty three las today, and so. Needless to o, say at this point, the event goers have had enough, oh yeah, and so i know like if i could get my car out, i would leave so they they end up storming the recca ering trucks, oh, no and stealing, all of the food and just distributing it to the people. It was a full forest, take over a hostile takeover and everyone had me slandering chuck. Everybody is handing out raw hamburger meat. We start on the truck, we got it and we were like thanks. I i guess like i think, that's what happened, and so this is kind of the moment where it just starts to decline into absolute disaster. Oh yeah, obviously, because how long how i suppose to be three to five to three day festival? This is like day to, and people were were supposed to sleep outside right yeah. They were supposed to bring their own tents and so they're sleeping in the turn flats, with their tents, tents in the turn flats and in gordly tents or flat deads. Their car is somewhere twenty miles down the highway and their favorite band isn't showing up anymore. There's no food, there's no running water. People are bathing in the river and it's just it's an absolute disaster and and to make matters even worse. Illinois who had just diction to the area had to go around to the nearest bridge to cross into to get there. They could. They only had three sharifs that they could get into this think two hundred thousand people, and so they just they didn't, have a chance. The show s they couldn't police this situation, and so it was, it was a lawless. World drugs were openly being sold. There was a a market that opened up where they literally set up like boot. This there was a there was a drug truck that wollt, like we saw the guys right out of the food truck, didn't work out, but i mean we got jugs yeah, so they were open the selling drugs and it wan hours. It was so open that the promoters between sets would come out and announce the people that they shouldn't buy drugs from because it was leased with other stuff. Hey guys, don't get it from that. Both get from this proof over here and now enjoy fifty minutes of silence. I, for the doors yeah gonna, be low by another moment of silence, but we appreciate you giving us your money. Thank you so much for this festival's huge success, oh and great, le guys, god bless america. That's very! Can now so up. I screwy to get a change cream, social eyes crazy and it's like too many syllables to change. So a lot of people start ditching. A lot of people are like walking back to the car, but there's some die hards who are like who are like i'm sticking around to the end of this. I want to see the whole show. I want to see it through here's the thing they're not eating they're, not really bathing. They don't have they're, not getting a good night's sleep. They are walking through a swamp took out of the bathroom and it's just is the worst conditions you can imagine, and so these people start to get insane and they're high they're very high three days, they've lost their minds. They are yeah and so late. On the second day, a group, a hungry group of people, find a cow roaming, the pastures and they decide to slaughter it, and so these people slaughter the cow and they attempted to cook it, but they did not succeed, and so they left this carcass it just in the middle of the event, half cooked just boiling in the summer sun. So now you just got a rotten meat, yeah just chilling in the middle of the event and the- and you know those people were like guys look, we got a crowd, we got food and then they couldn't cook at this and els like what youth pastors have nightmares about. Camp is they're. Just like they wag in honan they're, like rotten cow, they kill the cow, said the parent email home, hey your child, kid killed a cat, the cow, that's the subiron, i cow killed, but cows of the a a yeah, the literation you thasel of iteration. I love that stuff. Kid killed cow. You open that email i mean. Like you know you gotta go pick up your kid from camp, then yeah you do yeah. You definitely pick up he's like he's like local headline. Is cow killed at camp, but he ends the email on a light. Hearted note because you passes got to do that they're like well. I guess you grabbed the bull by the horns right. I love the initiative that your kids shown. You know, he's gonna be a great leader, one, but a great leader, and so the ansigte just keeps taking it to another love because, worse yeah, so eventually they come together and a group of them go back like a really pierre over there likeokay stop what you doing. Please don't kill the cat. You know like they can't do anything about they can't they can't, and so eventually a group goes back to the res catering trucks there's three of them and they push them together and catch them on fire and build like this giant on fire of catering trucks and this truck burnt the trucks burned through the night. This bonfire was burning through the night. Those trunks in the morning for seven full days is a miracle, a guy walking near him. He heard god speak from the the trucks and he made him take his shoes on it and he was like he's like he was like he's like: hey god he's like i tick my shoes off, but i don't know if you've seen the floor here he's like your hurts everywhere around it's like okay, it was just one of the. It was just one of the the attendees who was really high just sitting in the fire just sitting to the mis. Take off your shoes day. Shoes off doesn't even know the bible story even on the plea of the fire. Take your shoes off. Do that. I'm gonna tell you, i'm gonna sit dude, i'm going to do this all the time man i want to be at the airport, i'm gonna star, someone down and they're like. Could i help you? Can you do your shoes of that's? How weird that would be you have to comply? You have to s mean all right. What happens if you don't? I think it would be worse. If you did, you know want this. Hey thanks for being here, we've got merchandise. It's a way to support the show and help us do more stuff by new equipment. Greet more people if you like what we're doing and want to help us. Do that more. Please consider doing that. If you want to link to that all of that's going to be sent to you. If you is text till in to six six, eight, six, six i'll tell you it's not a thing where we're going to text you a lot were no, it's not a text service. We're not going to like send you more the mot. It's just a way for you to get a link. It's one text! That's all we're going to send. I promise you so yeah, so the thing just burnt, like burnt a just burnt, that cops were like we're out of here the cobs like year. It's going to leave well come to have a wife and kids. I can't do this, so, yes, they leave third day the event i goes on. Most of the people have left by this point. Yeah, when i pewter est it like a rotten cow in the middle and three trucks on fire, i'm like yeah, it's probably not it's literally, i'm not en gonna. I'm an don't hold your breath on a refund. I don't think we're getting it. I think we should just cut our losses and go it's that i hear chandlers a really nice town. I think we should go just hang out in town and visit and honestly it's sunday. Maybe we can go to church. Maybe he freaking need it. I don't so there's only a few thousand people left at this point, an it's all the anarchists, it's the people who yeah the people who are like oh yeah, there's more people who showed up as they heard about the burning drugs they're like. Oh, that's what they're doing a definitely go to that. So the last few artists end up dropping from the show and so yeah. It was like the next day two bands played and then nobody played for the rest of the day. It was the two that no one had heard of. It was just like the local bands who were like we're goin to show yeah. We got a show coming up. You should come we're playing work, tour, we're gonna, drink monster, waters wants to water, so it so. These people stick around for the last bit of the show and then, when the the last artist played before the the opening the end of the men, it was not supposed to be the end, but everybody knew was the ango bat left. They stormed the stage and just rid the to shreds during the set, not right at the end of it. So the guy finishes he's like he's like thanks thanks here canal soda pop festival or a bat yeah watch your feet way out, don't step in the turds see you later and then they like walks up the state and they just storm the stage and they just rip it apart. They end up setting that thing on fire too. Obviously so then they got a use all that money for damages, yeah, yeah and then finally, after parting, on this burning stage for a little bit, the rest of the people leave only to find that all of the cars i that were our part on the highway had gotten toad, which is pretty much everybody, because they had three days of tow trucks to just be like. Well, i guess we've got seventy two hours to just go up and down and to all these cars, and so they were just making round owing up the car, and so that's hilary. They described it as like a liberation event because would happened is somebody would have a car like they would have part they parked somewhere else, not right off the highway rs, whatever sitting at toad, and so they would literally be driving forty people into town, and so they be like piled under. It's like it's like the end of like a war like where everybody's piling on to one car and like hanging out of it and there's just like this picture of all these people, just rolling back into town from the erie canal, soda pop festival and the people in chanter saw this happen. They were like. We were right to the i e. It's a good thing, a good thing. We don't let that happen here at one of our cows burned yeah, we didn't want, they burn down our cows, so yeah. So let's talk a little bit about the aftermath. Okay, a few things happened here. Obviously there was a massive mess yeah that they had to clean up. Obviously there was the dead cow. The new road was pretty much destroyed. Oh really, yeah yeah pretty much destroy the turn. Fields were a public health nightmare to say the last, and so they ended up facing numerous lawsuits from the owner of the island, but also is a guys. You said you were cool. I want you guys said this was a family reunion. We got a big family if you all cat messed up: family, hey, don't hate on our family, man, the irs, the state of illinois and the state of indiana and all the vendors of the event and the court ended up fo, finding them several thousands of dollars. It yeah just seven thousand dollars several yeah, but i mean were hundred thousands of dollars. No, several thousands, really several thousands yeah, so i mean they pretty much got off. It's got free for all this yeah. What are you serious? Pretty much pretty much where the get all men that cost us? Twelve grand, oh no, in which review okay in two thousand and twelve bob alexander, was what he told he told the price. He said it had the possibility of being one of the greatest festivals ever yeah, which is true of any festival. This plan it had the assabet think of one in your head right now, okay, think about all the bands that could play there, yeah, that's possibly the best festival ever best ever possibly, and he said he said. I think the mere fact that we're talking about this forty years later says something about it as a major cultural event, and he said you know i'd love to try it again in the same location. So you didn't learn his lesson. Yeah the owner of the site ended up instead of trying to clean it up. He just bulldozed the land and buried everything there he's like he's like this. Is it literally sweep it on to the rock it's like? They were like he like hired a cleaning, peru, the seventy dollar cleaning fee and he was like yeah forget that i'm just going to bury the whole land way the islands called bull island yeah. You know what's erie about b, i said it's haunted by a ball and that, but if you listen at night, you can hear him go. Is that a bull sound, shut up? Take your shoes on you need the bey joke. Is that not the joe? No? That was. I was mad you the first time, but i was not the interuption like shut up to him. I don't, oh, you has so funny. Did he get it from the fire guy or is that where fire festival got their name, fire fecere burn some case, and your counting is what poor people do we elites burnham? Have you ever been to a festival like that where it like just kind of fell apart? No, really, if you yeah yeah, i never tell you that story. No, it's like heaven fast, like two thousand and eleven, which was like a christian music festival in colorado. I assumed heaven fest yeah, heaven fast and the great thing about heaven. Fest was i mean it was your stereotypical christian music festival. It was free, every yo, it yep ack nelson yep to mac yep, yep, teevee avenue norma to have oh man, ten tav and then crowder, yet obviously even curtis, chapman and grower. That was when he was playing with his guitar hero controller yeah. I real actually yeah yeah, but in like two thousand and nine they had an idea because there was this other tour that was like it was like a mini festival called scream. The prayer which i don't know if you've ever heard, o scream the prayer. No, it was the best thing in the world because, like two thousand and metal that was when youth group metal was a thing, yeah were like. There was just this massive church, metal scene and it was awesome and that scene was interesting because there's a lot over that, because a lot of people who weren't in the church liked those church bands yeah and they would end up going to these church- shows just to see these church bands that they liked well streamed. The prayer was comes through dem with the same day as hoenest, and so heaven fast was like hey. What, if you guys just did it at heaven fast, and so they set up a scream the prayer stage until i was nine and it was a huge hit, and so then in two thousand and ten they did it again, and it was also huge him. Well after the n ten, a screen prayer stop happening, and so they tried to book cannel bands, so havin fast was like we're going to book on, and so they actually did like. Have you heard this great christian man called slip? Knot i mean we think that they're going to really discrete war tent is going to be pretty great. We just booked them, i don't know they're they're up and coming band yeah. It's like that. It's the thether name. It stands for that that three three cord yeah ever you know- i mean it not cleante not easily broken yeah anyways, so they booked this event and they poked a few pretty good bands, a bot, my children, my bride, sleeping giant and under of those were like the big name ones. There was a couple, others that were like ancella metal, core bands like brian, had wild. She was newly christian yeah, that's right, so he was her testimony yeah and then there was white collar side show, and so those were like they kind of related sorta, but not really so they booked this event. It's a free show and there's heaven. Fest is completely free, completely free, okay, and so it brought the denver metal scene out of the woodworks man yeah and they had booked my children, my bride, to play ten am by first band, and one of the stages are on good morning. Good morning, heaven fest good morning, dan pro here's the issue yeah, they told my children, my bride, ten pm, instead of ten, am so my children, my bride at ten, a m was in wyoming all right, and so all these metal had showed up for my children, my bad that early because yeah, that's i this earliest have been on a bed in four months. So there's a massive crowd outside the stage and they obviously don't show up the promoter comes out and says: hey my choler, my bride's not going to make it sorry about it, and so we end up finding out twitter later that they were wyoming an they're on their way. Were they going to do it that now you're going to be there at ten pm is what they or the great thing about the way they planned. This event is there wasn't another metal band? Taking the stage until six p m- and that was now- the denver metal scene is hanging on a even purtas chapman for like ten hours, and it was hot the middle of summer. The closest thing they got was when hock nelson played bring them out exactly, and they were like bray about yeah. So like mashing and stuff, so freaking mercy me, you know mercy marsh at that point is what it was it. So all these dues are just kind of tittling their thumbs for hours and like they saw a white car, sudsine show and the dude from corn, and it was whatever, but then finally under earth takes the stage at six. Okay. This is when under earth was still cool like before they did their new stuff right, but aaron wasn't in the band at the time, but he was there doing his solo stuff, and so everybody was like aaron is going to come to a guest spot in this show like there's, no reason to believe that, okay than the fact that he was also there, he was there, and so everybody there's just the rumors that he was going to come out and that was going to be like their on core. You know it's people are aunt. Well, andrews takes a stage. These malha have been here for eight hours, yeah haven't seen a show they wanted to see, yet it's hot and it's under oath, and so i don't know he takes the stage and oh my gosh, it was one of the funnest pits i've ever been in, like it was just pandemonium yeah. You love that pit. It was so far favorite bit. Look at that pit. I mean of all the pits i've seen and it was just i was in the fields it was dusty. Star er is so cool, but here's a problem, the stephen curtis chapman fans didn't get it and there's such an overlacing metal scene because, like in the church metal bands, there was all these church, kids that listened to it, but they never been to their show. So they didn't know what that environ en didn't know what metal bands were like. So when the pit would open up, they would just see this giant got in the crowd, an ill look at this. They just walt in there. Oh, no and then the song would hit and they just get kicked in the face, as people were getting like. I can't count on one hand how many with us, o jesus they were get was in the teeth, o s questions. They saw these people and they're like i'm goin, to knock that guy out they're laine homeschool kit in the middle, with a backpack. On literally, i could not know that he's got like a backpack full of nestley, pure life waters right and they're like damp, because they're in there you know and like the labels are falling up, he's just got a puddle of water, the bottom of that back peg and those kids. Just straight he's got like you know, he's got those dumb sun glasses, like the ones you used to wear in college. You em for the white frame, one i he's out there and they just were in caked him in the team yeah. They just don't wait about that kevin yep! That's exactly what happened! Yeah and so kids start getting kicked out. F, th show security starts, kicking metal, heads out of show, the metal has oration security, people exactly it was pandemonium, they cut under a set short and, and then they basine stage down. That's what it went from good to great, because after under oath it was the next band. Metal band wasn't until ten p m, not was sleeping giant at ten p m, and there was this rumor that they were going to. Let my children my by play when they get here, which was supposed to be ten pm so is like seven jis can play it. Then my child of my brides flying in the place, so everybody hangs out for four more hours after they cut the set short and kicked everybody's friends out and everybody's just waiting for a super git to come out and sleeping giant set was i mean i thought underoath is pandemonium. Seeing giant was unbelievable. This kid literally got carted out in a stretcher. Rumor has it he broke his neck. I don't know if that's true room or has, but he got carted out in a streche. It was what are the craziest defense i have ever been to and then next year they didn't do a screaming yeah. They didn't let them back they're round on a like we're, not letting us back to this event. It was the death of metal yeah. That was the death of the christian medacine. Oh that's one of th. That's what all the christian bands are like we're, not we're, not crushing augus burns, where i was like we're, not a parthen yeah we're not yeah, heaven fast, never heard of that heaven never heard of it. So yeah it was a disaster. Man is a disaster, but my silin, my brought ended up playing some warehouse in denver that night and i to this day regret not going to see them because we just went home. It was exhausting. It was such an exhausting day, but you know we're still doing an episode right so yeah. So this event failed. I mean just like heaven fest ye. Here's a thing here we can also put pestil is a lot like heaviness the ice cream, social, which is what our live event would be called whenever we do at this fall, it'll be called an hillin ice cream, social tillin freedom festival, and i so they were playing on the scream the freer stage, so the tiling on the scream, the prayer stage of the free festival, ice cream, social at a posters friis ly are, i was like man. This must be a big event. Look el! On studios present we're doing it wow. Well i mean you know, i guess you don't want to hear my story right. Whatever join, you know, join our discord by dorning. Our patron is you? Can text talon six, six, six yeah and in the discord is how we will mobilize you to take over mount bon in missouri, i'm so serious. I e that's really funny and we just show them out for him as er. We just start chanting. Food of tin, love, tio,

At this point, we are all familiar with the Fyre Festival disaster. The Netflix and Hulu documentaries about the absolute failure of a concert captured the American youth. However, Fyre Fest was not the first music festival to crash and burn. In fact, it’s quite common for music festivals to end in disaster. Whether it be due to the kind of crowd music festivals attract, or the kind of people who are crazy enough to plan these events, or a fundamental flaw with the concept, they always seem to scrape right along the lines of disaster. As wild as Fyre Festival was, though, it’s nothing compared to the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival, AKA Bull Island.

The Advent of the Music Festival

In 1969 music festivals were thrust into reality when Woodstock brought nearly half a million people to a small town in New York. Across the nation, copycat festivals started popping up left and right. There was one major issue, though. Music festivals are a logistical nightmare. Live music events have hundreds of moving parts. Multi-day festivals introduce things like food, lodging, and waste management into the equation. It is no mystery how many of those early music festivals ended up being disastrous. They all paled in comparison to the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival.

The Promoters of Bull Island

Bob Alexander and Tom Duncan planned bull Island. The two were veteran concert promoters with years of shows under their belts. They had been courting the idea of a music festival for quite some time. Months before the festival at Bull Island, the duo successfully put on a small festival called the Freedom Festival and Ice Cream social in Evansville, Indiana.

The Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival

Despite the success of the festival, local officials were not happy with the event. The show brought large crowds to the small Indiana town; the crowd was not exactly the kind of crowd that small-town public officials like to see roaming their streets. Likewise, the aftermath of the concert left a large cleanup issue. The relationship with Duncan, Alexander, and the county was strained. So, when the team booked the local speedway for another much larger festival, the government began scrambling to block the event from ever happening. That is what they did, and that is how Bull Island became the original Fyre Festival.

The Birth of Bull Island

The county passed down a judgment that Alexander and Duncan could not book their planned festival anywhere within county limits. Then, nearby counties began following in suit. In a matter of days, the duo was banned from booking an event anywhere in southern Indiana. Unfortunately for the promoters, they had already been advertising the event and had sold thousands of tickets.

A ticket for the Bull Island Music Festival
A ticket for the Bull Island Music Festival
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

They then began scrambling to find a new venue for their budding festival. Eventually, they settled on farmland located on Bull Island, Illinois. The location was beneficial because it was technically in Illinois, but its location was accessible primarily from Indiana and was east of the Wabash River. Bob and Tom knew that had county officials in Illinois learned of the event, the show would surely be canceled, so they waited. They waited until just days before the event to announce, over the radio, the new location of the show. By this point, thousands of concert-goers were already at the site of the previous festival, and the county began to see the gravity of their mistake.

Fyre Festival Was Nothing Like Bull Island

On the first day of the event, concert-goers lined the one highway into Bull Island in bumper-to-bumper traffic. After extended wait times in traffic, many of the attendees began parking on the shoulder and walking into the venue. Upon arrival, it became clear that the event planners were not prepared for the magnitude of the show. There was inadequate parking, far less food than necessary, nearly no room for the tents, and only a couple of portapotties.

The collapse of the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival

Bob Alexander and Tom Duncan expected 55,000 attendees; final estimates totaled nearly 300,000. This far exceeded what they were prepared for. To make matters worse, the event’s headliners began to pick up on the size of the crowd and began attempting to renegotiate their contract. When Tom and Bob couldn’t satisfy the request to increase payments to be equivalent to the increase in the crowd the big names began dropping from the show. Little by little, as the conditions at the venue, got worse, more and more artists began dropping. Fans started stealing food, destroying property, and going absolutely wild.


Fyre Festival was a music festival disaster, but it was not the first, and it probably won’t be the last. As long as there are promoters who want to book the next big sensation, there will be failed music fests. Bull Island is an early version of the same old story. Many endured awful conditions to see an only decent show. Likewise, the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival was a disaster, but it could have been significantly worse. Some of the storylines throughout the event are unbelievable. Watch or Listen to this episode of the Things I Learned Last Night Podcast for the full story.

Learn more about the absolutely bonkers life of Charles J Guiteau in this episode of Things I Learned Last Night. Things I Learned Last Night is an educational comedy podcast where best friends Jaron Myers and Tim Stone talk about random topics and have fun all along the way. If you like learning, and laughing a whole lot while you do, then you’ll love TILLN. Watch or listen to this episode right now!




The Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival – Wikipedia

The Worst Music Festival of All Time – Open Culture

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