Some festivals are shitty in a strictly metaphorical sense, but the 2021 Elements Festival had no such luck. Logistical nightmares turned into a fecal frenzy, EDM.com reports, and the Lakewood, Pennsylvania music gathering also saw water shortages, 16-hour lines for entry, no planning for torrential rains, and a parking lot swallowed by a muddy pit.
The electronic music event boasted headliners including Griz, Diplo, Chris Lake, and Bonobo, and while it ran September 3rd through September 6th, the problems may have begun much earlier. On August 5th, organizers put out a call for volunteers in a Facebook post, in a move that may have anticipated the lack of staff. Then there was Hurricane Ida, which rendered the Bonnaroo grounds uninhabitable and pummeled central Pennsylvania. But where Bonnaroo organizers showed wisdom in calling a halt, Elements organizers decided to live up to their name by exposing ticket buyers to some of the worst that Mother Nature had to offer.
Many of the horror stories were collected in the public Facebook group Elements Shit Show 2021. Almost everyone reported long lines to get into the site, with some claiming they waited 16 hours for entry. One Twitter user posted a video of the long line, adding, “we waited over 10 hours and never got in.”
The few people charged with directing traffic reportedly gave up on the festival’s announced COVID-19 policies. “They just let anybody in,” one festival goer wrote on Instagram. “No proof needed. The ONLY reason we decided to attend the festival was because they sold it with such a strict covid policy. Once we realized they weren’t scanning the crowd pass or people’s tickets we knew it was a lost cause.” The same person also referenced “overflowing bathrooms,” and dozens of other complaints cited this same stomach-roiling failure.
One person commented on Facebook, “I talked to the camp security and they mentioned that a group of tents had actually set up over a sewage drain and some people were climbing over barbed wire fences to go to the bathroom because the portapotties were abhorrent. There was no guidance on where to and where not to camp and absolutely no oversight or caution as to make sure people stayed safe and healthy while living there.”
Elements not only lacked enough portable toilets, they compounded the issue with poor gate planning. The toilets were reportedly surrounded by campers. One person wrote, “there was no way for the cleaning trucks to get to them because everybody was camped around them due to no organization by the people throwing this event.”
Via Stereogum, one person said they had, “Never seen more shit everywhere literally someone pooped next to my car almost stepped in it leaving also people kept shitting on all the toilet seats like it was an activity.”
While that may have been the most disgusting problem, the lack of food and water was probably more dangerous. “Since the festival was prohibiting fires, propane grills or camping stoves into the festival, food vendors started running out of food by Friday evening,” one music fan recalled. “Since they were also prohibiting anyone to bring more than ‘2 gallons of sealed water’ into the grounds, the lines at the water refill stations stayed borderline inaccessible the whole weekend.”
The experience drew more than one comparison to Fyre Festival, the botched 2017 event that landed co-founder Billy McFarland in prison. So far Elements organizers aren’t facing any criminal charges, but at least one lawsuit is on the way.
absolute shit show we waited over 10 hours and never got in pic.twitter.com/Vtvxwg5k6LAdvertisement
— 𝖋𝖆𝖎𝖗𝖞 ࿐ ˚ . ✦ (@ifakeitsoreal) September 5, 2021
There’s a minor Fyre situation happening at the Elements music festival in PA this weekend. Between poor logistics + damage from Ida + oversold tickets + covid issues…things are not going well.
— Alex Mizrahi (@alexmiz) September 4, 2021
In more EDM news, attendees are now planning a lawsuit against Elements Festival for waiting over 16+ hours to get into camping.Advertisement
— Katie 🦋🔜 LL 🦖 (@bassbutterflyyy) September 4, 2021