FinnaRage Wants You to Rage at Its Parties. So What if It Ends Up a Riot?
Party company FinnaRage, which encourages young partiers to go wild and then films it all, promoted its Keene State events relentlessly. But it says the ensuing riots aren’t its fault.
“Black out. Or back out. Rage. Get laid. Repeat. Let the kids play.” These are just some of FinnaRage’s words to live by.
The company, which hosts pop-up parties on or near college campuses, promotes its events through social media with videos showing “epic” adventures of the young, drunk, and eager. Once an event begins, staffers get the party going, encouraging kids to “Rage,” then film it, post it, dream it goes viral.
FinnaRage is one of a few companies that perform such services, the best known of which is arguably I’m Shmacked, which has been linked to a near-riot at the University of Delaware.
For weeks leading up to Keene, New Hampshire’s annual Pumpkin Festival, FinnaRage had been advertising that it was coming to Keene State College for the family-friendly event, at which the city attempts to beat the world record for the most lit Jack-o-Lanterns in one place.
But if its tweets are to be believed, FinnaRage didn’t anticipate the riots, fires, injuries, and massive police presence the parties held the weekend of Oct. 18 would bring. Some are arguing the company should have known, including New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, who cited outside party-planning groups that attracted crowds of partiers to Keene as contributing to the riots.
After all, for at least a month and a half before the festival, FinnaRage did all it could to bring in the crowds and pump up the excitement.
On September 10, FinnaRage tweeted, “#KSC Spring Weekend!! Pumpkin fest 2014 will be 10x crazier .. YOU READY KEENE #FinnaRage.” Included was a link to a video from a spring party hosted at Keene State bearing the caption “It doesn’t matter how big the school is, It matter’s how hard they can rage.”
As for the video itself, think “Girls Gone Wild” with less nudity and more images of dudes drinking and screaming.
Generally speaking, the films and photos FinnaRage posts are awash in scantily clad girls—referred to as RageBabes—tricked-out beer bongs, couples making out, and more scantily clad girls, also making out. Drinking is ubiquitous, with plenty of footage of young men dumping semi-full bottles of hard liquor into their awaiting gobs and screaming fits amid beer showers, all while peers cheer them on. There’s also the requisite smattering of bleary-eyed kids taking rips off pipes and—in a picture posted on social media—a photo of a bag of cocaine with the caption, “this kids about to go off.”
In short, FinnaRage launched a persuasive ad campaign courting Keene students looking for a place to throw down, and in return offered the promise of what any party-inclined kid wants in a college fête, only bigger, louder, crazier, and on film.
“Keene state goes HARD AS FUCK…” the company tweeted Oct. 3. “That’s why the #PumpkinFest video WILL go viral.. #15MoreDays #FinnaRage #SpreadTheWord #KSC #KSC.”
To be fair, FinnaRage did post at least one public-service message amid the flurry of Pumpkin Fest boosting on its social-media pages:
“We’re not here to start riots,” one particularly prescient FinnaRageTV post Oct. 10 read. “Were not here to advocate drunken misbehaviors, were simply here to show the world how good of time you and your school can have with FinnaRage! #LetTheKidsPlay #KeeneState #FreeConcert #PumpkinFest.”
That post came in response to word getting out that landlords in Keene were warning tenants that if they hosted one such party, they would be evicted.
By the next day, though, FinnaRage was pitching again: “We’ve come to conclusion.. Every school we’ve gone to goes hard as fuck.. BUT.. We think Keene State still holds the title..”
In the meantime, the company set up parties at the University of Rhode Island—which apparently did not go so well, according to FinnaRage: “Fuck Narragansett cops… #URI Still turns the fuck up though”—University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of New York Albany, and a few others in Boston. The company also co-sponsored a concert with 2Chainz as headliner and partnered with UniversityPrimetime.com. Pretty impressive for a company that’s less than a year old.
Those efforts have been led by 20-year-old Trevor Finney of Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, also known as Trevor Austin. According to his LinkedIn page, Finney is not only a co-founder of FinnaRage but also a part-time bus boy at a local restaurant and a clerk at Market Basket. The impresario’s work history includes pizza and newspaper delivery. He’s also a student at Bay State College and has big dreams of being a businessman.
“Business is in my blood,” he writes on his LinkedIn page. “Its in my DNA. Its a part of me that will never leave me…Through the years with these several jobs I’ve had, its helped me shape up who I am and how I realized I’m a business man… My mind is always racing and always trying to invent the next big thing… its just a matter of time I can use my skills with a team of people and really put my foot in the door.”
According to Finney’s Facebook page, his four-year goal is to own a Husky puppy. He declined repeated requests for comment from The Daily Beast.
It’s clear from social media that by Sept. 10, Finney had his eye on Keene Pumpkin Fest when he started the countdown he refers to in this later FinnaRageTV post: “The countdown is REAL!!! #PumpkinFest14 #KeeneState @KeeneStatePblms were looking for reps for your school on the 18th!!”
Part of Finney’s relentless pre-promotion was an effort to find hosts for a FinnaRage party at Pumpkin Fest. Once a student contacts Finney agreeing to host a party—the location is revealed through a direct message to Finney—he and his crew spread the word via social media and create buzz. On the day of the party, the host shows Finney and his crew around, and they set up. They usually bring a DJ or two, but it’s not clear whether they bring alcohol. They set up, the party ensues, they film.
On Pumpkin Fest weekend, they did things a little differently. They were going to host a party on Friday, but they also wanted a field to host a free concert.
They hosted the party Friday night Oct. 17, which resulted in several arrests and injuries, according to police records and news reports. They were aware of the fallout: A warning from “jamesb” was posted in the news feed on their Web page linking to a letter warning of problems Friday night as a result of large parties near campus. The warning came with the caption from jamesb, “Keene was too lit last night.”
Yet the plans for a free concert the next day, Oct. 18, moved forward.
“Go Harder than the day Before. #NoDaysOff,” @FinnaRageTV posted in the hours before the Saturday concert. Another post read, “Last night was epic, we already can make a full video, Day 2 today lets go Keene!!! #LivePerformance #FinnaRage #LetTheKidsPlay.”
Still another read: “One night down Keene State!!! #FinnaRage #TheCollegeLifeTour #LetTheKidsPlay.” The link goes to an Instagram photo of Finney standing above a large crowd, arms raised, hands fisted, as another person next to him appears to be jumping into the crowd.
They set up for the free concert the next day.
“This rain isn’t stopping us..WHOSE READY TO RAGE!?” read an Oct. 18 from FinnaRageTV.
Instagram photos from that day show Finney and his crew setting up under a tarp outside. There’s also a video link on their site to a massive party in a field. Comments from FinnaRage and others ran alongside:
FinnaRage tells @movementmuzik, “riots, shit that shouldn’t be happening.. Got to out of hand .. We had to get out.”
Other commenters ask why it got out of hand, to which FinnaRage replies: “Being surrounded my officers knowing they were about to be attacked, there was no purpose of partying other then Getting drunk and preparing.. Never seen anything like what happened today.. Well have a video..”
In response to an angry local saying the whole thing was ridiculous, FinnaRage answered, “we completely agree , it got out of hand.. please be safe!” and later commented, “shit was wild man…Kids gotta know when enoughs enough..”
But another tweet [email protected] 617, who is listed among those working for FinnaRage, was a little less contrite: “On my way home from a weekend of insanity, @finnaragetv killed it. Good luck to the rest of the team.” He posted a link to an Instagram shot of the party in the field that has since been removed.
Later Sunday, @knockout617 appears to have had second thoughts, posting: “finnarage is not a ‘rave company’, we did not go to keene to cause ‘mayhem we were simply there to get it on film and left before sundown.”
That “mayhem” was the riots that broke out in a neighborhood surrounding Keene State’s campus. College-age kids tore down street signs and toppled light poles, one of which narrowly missed striking a former New Hampshire state representative. They pelted cars with rocks and bottles. Other students threw full liquor and beer bottles through the air, striking fellow partiers and police in riot gear, including one officer who was struck in the back of the head. The streets were clogged with rioters, to the point that emergency crews had to set up triage units in the neighborhood to treat the wounded while dodging bottles and full cans of beer being thrown at them. As for the wounded, they suffered injuries ranging from lacerations and blunt trauma to broken bones and at least one report of a 20-year-old boy, unconscious and barely breathing. The rioters set fires, tipped cars, smashed windows, slashed tires, and started fistfights. At least one woman trying to get to the Pumpkin Festival reported her car was swarmed by rioters who shook and punched her car as they screamed obscenities at her 12-year-old daughter sitting in the back seat. Employees on campus barricaded themselves inside buildings to keep rioters out; students hid in dorm rooms, too afraid to go outside.
The rioters raged for more than eight hours.
In the end, Gov. Hassan declared a state of emergency, more than 100 rounds of pepper balls were used, and police from more 20 agencies from around the state came out to help contain the crowd of 2,000 partiers. Eighty-four people were arrested and more than 30 people were treated for injuries, with scores more hurt but not treated. The cost of the damage is not yet clear, although hundreds of Keene State College students came out the next morning to clean up and personally apologize to store owners, police, and neighbors.
Finney denies any responsibility.
In an email at 1 a.m. Sunday, Finney said, “It’s ridiculous, we’ve been out of Keene since 4 this afternoon.”
A few days later, he told New Hampshire Public Radio, “We were put in the middle… I got shot by a rubber bullet. Like… I… this is the last thing that I wanted.”
No rubber bullets were fired. Keene Police Chief Kenneth Meola says that none of the departments who came to Keene to help own rubber bullets, though officers did use long-range sponge batons on rioters who were acting “aggressively” toward police, he said. Police are trying to determine what, if any, role FinnaRage played in the riots.
The latest post from FinnaRage reads “Jumanji 2.0 Coming soon.” The movie Jumanji was filmed in Keene.