Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage
July 29, 2021 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage How did an iconic celebration of harmony descend into mayhem? Woodstock 99, the first film in Bill Simmons' Music Box HBO series, examines how the festival collapsed under the weight of its own misguided ambition.

"All in all, the ’99 fest was a vortex of cynicism that might seem impossible to replicate. Still, the documentary is so vivid as to instill dread at the thought of all the gatherings to come."Spencer Kornhaber for The Atlantic

"In its account of how Woodstock ’99, a sequel to the three-day 1969 gig that stands as a testament to the unifying power of the hippie generation, went up quite literally in flames, Peace, Love, and Rage is pointed in attributing blame for the carnival of horrors the weekend would entail, but light on why the dehydrated revelers wanted to go in the first place."Craig Jenkins for Vulture
posted by dmh (36 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I remember seeing Moby at this thing. It wasn't a bad show really. He didn't play a stage, but sort of an all-night tent in the middle, in the middle of the night (with the, "Ravers" and the Chemical Brothers + Fat Boy Slim). His Animal Rights era cover of, "That's When I Reach For My Revolver" was alright - the guy can play a guitar, although I always laugh when he swears he was a member of Flipper. I really enjoyed Play as an 18 y/o so it was a good show, really, despite not really liking the man now and finding him a little creepy.

I remember before the last song he mentioned that it would be really cool if everyone left to pick up one piece of trash before they went to their tents, 'cause he saw a lot of trash around.

I also remember being just a few rows back when the RHCPs were playing as the last band on the last day. Flea was naked. Frusc look f'n ROUGH. They played Light My Fire as the encore and I looked around and the ATMS in the back were either on fire or presently being looted.

Back at camp, I remember being woken up in the middle of the night by someone driving an ATV through the campsite. Up and over everyone's tents - just b-lining it to some unknown destination. That was pretty intense. I went back to sleep.

The walk out the next morning was surreal, with it seemed every police officer in NY lining the entire path to the exits. We made it back to Connecticut and I picked up my shift at a health food store in Glastonbury.

Living in Connecticut as a teenager really sucked - this was one of the less-sucky things to happen. Man I moved outta there and never looked back.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:49 PM on July 29 [27 favorites]


Also my memory is actually off, but I distinctly remember RATM playing right before Jewel (they both played, but not in that order?), who was still doing her coffee shop-esque set. RATM burnt an America Flag for their last song; Jewel played behind bulletproof glass.

Later that night, metallica did like 90 encores and way before that, George Clinton + P-Funk played day 0. P-Funk may have been a highlight. Guster was there! On like day 1. They were just so bad, I don't get jam bands. Junior High and High School was all about bringing this faux hippy style back and it just looked and smelled so awful. I thought I was just so cool in my Operation Ivy t-shirt. What a goober.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:53 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Also there WAS a lot of groping, I have no problem finding a clean-enough porta potty, (or water) and the "mud" wasn't all that hard to dodge. Honestly, I think someone just had a hose running for too long in a few spots at least - or someone just say '94 and thought that would be cool here, too.

It did turn me off to festivals for forever. Even playing festivals is just so lame. I hope it gets cool enough over here to see a basement show soon.


OK I'm done.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:59 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


If wavy gravy hadn't made nice with the local police and the people nearby hadn't pitched in when the food ran out the original woodstock would have been a disaster.

I've seen Michael lang speak at screenings of earlier woodstock anniversary films and i think he's a dick.
posted by brujita at 2:44 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Jewel played behind bulletproof glass.

I mean, it was a mess but '99 was recent enough for there to be video - that's just a drum shield. Also Moby did sing with Flipper (for a night), but yeah not a member (not even in the 00s).
posted by sysinfo at 2:52 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


Warning - this doc is good but it's very upsetting. A lot of talk about sexual assault and one truly odious example of victim-blaming of an entire gender.
posted by lunasol at 3:06 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]




Frankly, the main point I took from this doc was that John Scher, one of the promoters, was and still is a rancid garbage person.
posted by holborne at 5:05 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


Jewel played behind bulletproof glass.

In the biz, this is also called a Jewel case.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:26 PM on July 29 [64 favorites]


I can't even remember what I ate for dinner how am I supposed to remember what happened i—

o that
posted by not_on_display at 7:03 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


I also remember being just a few rows back when the RHCPs were playing as the last band on the last day. Flea was naked. Frusc look f'n ROUGH.

I kept scrolling along thinking, what? Frusciante? No, that was the (small) David Navarro era of RHCP. No wonder someone would think Frusciante was looking rough if it wasn't him!

Then, I googled. RHCP closed the show in 94 and 99? I somehow remember the patch cable falling out of Frusciante's guitar, but somehow remembered it as Navarro?

I could have sworn I watched both performances (I remember the lamp costumes that I just saw on Wikipedia, remember patch cable falling out of guitar), but I sure as hell didn't pay for the 1999 Woodstock, so....?

Memory can be a hell of a thing.

They played Light My Fire as the encore and I looked around and the ATMS in the back were either on fire or presently being looted.

Light My Fire is Doors. "Fire" is Jimi Hendrix, of which they had covered in the past, even changing a line to say "Freaky Styley Fire!) to name check one of their earlier albums. Using this non-authoritave setlist as proof. Makes me feel slightly better that my memory is so warped about those two Woodstock festivals. Also makes me feel really weird that I know all of this Chili Peppers trivia.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:07 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Ohhh boy what a week - I’m typing this in a slight fever dream after a marathon of uh: house cleaning. Yeah: Hendrix not Morrison.

Jewel played under a protective barrier - it was so strange and off putting, but I guess that was the feeling of the event - as in: what a salad buffet of acts. Who books Jewel and Limp Bizkit on the same bill? The 90s, man.

Totally Fusciante - he just looked gaunt and had all these crazy scars on his arms. He looked like that show was the last place he wanted to be.

I’m fascinated with Moby’s interview in the trailer. Like I wrote, he wasn’t on one of the main stages, he was playing a set in an after hours show in a much smaller tent. His take on things with the aerial footage of massive crowds is a little bit too much artistic license for me.

I remember much about this show since I, for lack of a better term, blogged about it on my personal website at the time. I’ve read the entry so many times. I wish it was up since oh what a time capsule. It’s on my SSD drive still in all of its XHTML glory. Taking photos with a disposable 35 camera, using found stickers and trash, scanning them on my flatbed scanner hooked up to my Windows 95 powered Gateway 2000 Pentium PC. I thought I was some Kerouacesque version of Phillip Greenspun. Now we get to tweet.
posted by alex_skazat at 7:43 PM on July 29 [9 favorites]


Always thought the vibe for Woodstock 99 was about topping the Woodstock 94 Metallica/NIN/Greenday/Prius energy, not celebrating the 30 year anniversary to the original one. That's just my POV from the time but it might explain why it got crazy super fast, it had nothing to do with hippy vibes.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 7:49 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


Dang. I had heard that it didn't go well but the truth is off the chain. I'm looking forward to seeing the video as long as I can fast-forward through the sexual assault.
posted by bendy at 1:04 AM on July 30


Always thought the vibe for Woodstock 99 was about topping the Woodstock 94 Metallica/NIN/Greenday/Prius energy

Yeah, those Toyota hybrids were totally (sic)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:37 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


Jewel played under a protective barrier - it was so strange and off putting

Was the video sysinfo posted of a different performance? You remember what you remember, but I don’t see a barrier in that video other than the audio shield in front of the drum kit.
posted by zamboni at 6:13 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


watched this, pretty sickening to see how awful this ended up. I do remember reporting at the time and definitely remember the era.

I still never understood how RATM became frat-rock-nu-metal adjacent. It's as if I was hearing P.E.'s Fight the Power at a young Republican convention.

Also TRIGGER WARNING for sexual assault, groping, and victim blaming with out a hint of self awareness.
posted by djseafood at 8:43 AM on July 30


I still never understood how RATM became frat-rock-nu-metal adjacent. It's as if I was hearing P.E.'s Fight the Power at a young Republican convention.

I think you'd be surprised at how many frat guys listened to rap at least back then. Maybe they did it semi-ironically, or maybe they like the parts about the money, power, and women and ignored the parts about the civil unrest, I don't know. Also rap-rock and RATM were popular, and frat guys listen to popular music.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:33 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


About RATM, it's angry/loud/catchy/energetic and its says 'fuck you' multiple times in the song and had the parental advisory sticker. Ticks all the boxes.

If you're the kind of person not really paying attention to the lyrics, I think it's really easy to miss the point.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 10:11 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Here is Lefsetz' take on Woodstock 99. He is a music industry writer/blogger/bloviator... If you are interested in the business of music, Lefsetz is a widely read "expert" in the industry.
posted by AugustWest at 10:37 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


WaterAndPixels & The_Vegetables -
appresh but I can certainly contextualize the why - it's that I can't understand how RATM's politics can be separated from the music. like P.E. it's so tied to THE MESSAGE it still boggles my noggin - which is why I used them as an example.

I know I'm asking too much of the listener, even now 30 years after the first album came out.
posted by djseafood at 11:44 AM on July 30


Bloviator is right. That article takes a bunch of disconnected things, vaguely tries to connect them together, makes unfounded economical points [repeating greed doesn't need a bunch of paragraphs], blames women for sexual assaults. He might have a point that Woodstock 99 was a 'starting point', but never really gets to what it was a starting point for, and doesn't even mention other festivals or concerts with disastrous results that happened before hand.

Just a taste of the contradictions:
"Because it’s Metallica that represents the ethos of so many of the Woodstock 99 attendees. The underrepresented. A commenter in the documentary says the attendees were all upper middle class denizens. I don’t buy that, never underestimate the need of metalheads to see their favorite acts.

But now metal angst is its own private backwater, with little mainstream penetration. There’s no MTV to promote it."

OK, so underrepresented metalheads raging apparently set the stage for everything vaguely bad happening now, and might consist of 40% of the population of the US (it's kind of hard to tell if he's making a full political analogy or just riffing) while it's also a private backwater without MTV to promote it. What?

Also is he suggesting that black people took over the burning 'with the angst in hiphop line'? Without MTV, what's fueling hiphop?

On the plus side urban festivals like ACL or Jazzfest is heralded as the future, but is that true? It's an interesting question.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:45 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


That show is fascinating for the original history (videos - it's easy to forget how MTV was still _it_ for music and Carson Daly really was kind of a passable Dick Clark for the short attention span era.)...

...and maddening for the cluck, cluck, cluck of Wesley Morris's fountains of insight utterly unconnected to what was being shown on the video and the reporter from Spin opining large across 20 years of history as if there were no youth anger anywhere in American history before Fred Durst took the stage.

It is interesting that this generation would be shipping off to Iraq and Afghanistan three years later, and they would be in their 40s when the Trump thing happened. Their anger has been tapped into many times - is it because more of it's there, or is propaganda just getting that much better?

Also, Eminem's "Without Me" has some commentary on this time and era even if it was from several years later.
posted by lon_star at 12:03 PM on July 30


it's that I can't understand how RATM's politics can be separated from the music

I can, when I was in uni RATM would be played at parties and would get everybody pumped up but not because of the politics. And shamefully I was no different, Im pretty sure at one point in my life I believed the M was for synths/electronics.

Granted we were all non native English speakers so lyrics kinda blend with the music if you're not paying special attention, but I’m sure it’s just as easy if you usually don’t care about lyrics in the music you listen to.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 12:44 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


If you poll 100 random people in the US, I bet 75 would tell you that Born in the USA by Springsteen is a rah-rah patriotic America song. So I can totally believe people don't have a clue what RATM was singing about.

I graduated college in 1989 and rap was starting to push rock out at the frat parties even then.
posted by COD at 4:00 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I can, when I was in uni RATM would be played at parties and would get everybody pumped up but not because of the politics. And shamefully I was no different, Im pretty sure at one point in my life I believed the M was for synths/electronics.

That's actually logical, as at least the first album said in the liner notes (quoting/paraphrasing from memory) "All sounds on this album made only with drums, guitar, bass and a mic." Easy to misinterpret that as them being against, samples, synth, etc. (I read in an interview at the time that this was definitely not their POV.)

As to how "bros" or whoever could listen to Rage detached from their politics... Excluding their debut album, sometimes instruments were mixed way up over the verse, but flipped for the chorus. Sometimes the verses may have been explicit but dealt with an issue that just sailed over "bro"s heads. Who knows what else.

Just a quick look at some of their songs: People of the Sun, Down Rodeo, Bulls on Parade... I couldn't tell you what those were about and I listened to those constantly.

I would be interested to know what the same cohort thought of their cover album Renegades. I could imagine a whole bunch of "WTF is THIS?"
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 4:32 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


"All sounds on this album made only with drums, guitar, bass and a mic." And a flanger, and a phaser, and a delay, a wah …
posted by q*ben at 5:20 PM on July 30


I really don't understand this discussion about RATM. Surely, tons of people listened to them, enjoyed the music, understood the political message, and simply...didn't agree with it? Just like lots of people listen to punk but aren't committed anarchists?
posted by kickingtheground at 5:32 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


"All sounds made by guitar, bass, drums and vocals" seems to be closer to right.

Agree with your point about the effects pedals (and, hell, amps) and definitely any production that was done on the sound board. I was just trying to show how it's not a hard leap to think the "machine" being raged against was synth, drum machines, etc.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 5:37 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I just watched the docu. Yah, my memory was off. There was a plastic barrier, but Jewel is obviously in front of it. I remember her playing alone. I also remember RATM playing in the daytime, not at night. Funny how memory works. You do have to be careful with this docu still - some of the live performances are from different shows. They do splice in some ICP footage from a completely different show in there for some reason - kind of to show that the argo that was going on in music and music goers wasn't specific to this show.

I DID find the photo.net hosted page of my photos:

https://www.photo.net/gallery/8641#//Sort-Newest/All-Categories/All-Time/Page-0

Including waiting in line at the bathroom, watching Sid and Nancy at the, "Film Festival", our tent "among the trees" (notice I brought the essentials, including juggling pins(?!), and the trash can drummers.

I must have scanned these in at a hi-res from the prints, so they're pretty good quality.
posted by alex_skazat at 12:39 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


If wavy gravy hadn't made nice with the local police and the people nearby hadn't pitched in when the food ran out the original woodstock would have been a disaster.

Joni Mitchell had the best experience of it, I think.
posted by thelonius at 3:46 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Sara Benincasa on her memories of working as a crisis intervention worker at Woodstock 99 (Medium)
The trainers did a good job that would’ve prepared anybody to provide help to scared, lost, or sick people at a festival attended by around 400,000 joyful music fans, if said outdoor concert featured a comprehensive security team, plenty of potable water and affordable food, places to rest, an extensive network of functioning toilets, and general good vibes. After all, this is what Woodstock ’69 and ’94 cofounder Michael Lang and concert promoter John Scher had assured the world would be on offer at Woodstock ‘99.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:48 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


(Article carries a content warning for descriptions of sexual harassment and assault)
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:54 PM on July 31


I have VHS tapes of all this somewhere. I tossed the last VCR a long time ago.
posted by mikelieman at 6:58 AM on August 1


This documentary was kind of infuriating in its weird attempt to connect the violence and sexual violence of woodstock 99 with the rise of Trumpian semifascism 20 years later, as if blame for the world we live in now can be laid at the feet of Nu Metal (a musical genre I can't stand, btw).

What's especially bizarre about it to me is that it's not like Woodstock '69 wasn't a catastrophe of rape and violence, but we don't say that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young is violent music. It's just that that's not how the boomers who spent that week on acid and skag want to remember things (this is barely mentioned in passing at the start of the doc), AND, it's those boomers who are STILL in power. It feels very much like some explicit content parental advisory 90s hand-wringing about those awful teens and their music all over again without any self reflection about the original Woodstocker's impact on the world.

I dunno. I will say that watching MTV coverage of '99 as a 15 year old has kept me from going to music festivals my whole life and I can't say I think it was a bad decision.
posted by dis_integration at 11:31 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


This documentary was kind of infuriating in its weird attempt to connect the violence and sexual violence of woodstock 99 with the rise of Trumpian semifascism 20 years later, as if blame for the world we live in now can be laid at the feet of Nu Metal (a musical genre I can't stand, btw).

I agree with this. I wanted to watch this because I remember watching the event on TV and being horrified, but the framing was both over the top and under considered.
posted by chaz at 11:48 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


« Older If👏 you're👏 not👏 Kubla👏 Khan👏   |   Flocking Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments