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Trainwreck: Woodstock '99
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Woodstock ‘99, the “how it started, how it’s going” meme of music festivals, is revisited once again, this time for Netflix, with the three-episode docuseries Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99. What began as an ambitious attempt to revisit (and monetize) the peace and love vibe of the OG 1969 festival devolved into a morass of supply shortages, logistic snafus, rioting, sexual violence, and widespread property damage. And oh yeah, over 90 artists performed.
TRAINWRECK: WOODSTOCK ’99: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: Monday, July 26, 1999, and grainy VHS shot out of a car window as the wreckage of Woodstock ‘99 is surveyed. “Good God,” a man says. “Is this Bosnia?” asks another, lingering on the hulk of a burned-out car.
The Gist: The plan was simple. Convert the vast tarmac of a decommissioned air force base into a festival venue with the capacity for 400,000 ticket holders who can also camp onsite. Book a bunch of acts, to the tune of ten or eleven performances on the event’s two main stages across three days of music. Invite MTV, which in 1999 was still a relevant voice of youth, music, and culture. And then sell the whole thing as a pay-per-view package. Michael Lang, co-founder of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969, partnered with concert promoter John Scher to revive the festival and convey counterculture vibes, peace, love and music to a generation of kids reeling from gun violence like that of the Columbine Massacre, which occured in April 1999. That was the aim, Lang says in Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99. But the key was profit, something Scher hadn’t seen in 1994, when Woodstock’s first revival was overrun by mud and gate-crashers. And according to former staff interviewed for Trainwreck, chasing profit meant cutting corners and outsourcing critical supply items. You know, like water.
“How the F**k Did This Happen?”, the first of this three-part docuseries, flips between interviews with Lang, Scher, and Joe Griffo, the former mayor of Rome, New York, who all swear their intentions were good. But all of that vibing on peace and love – and the colorful paintings splashed across the concert site’s impenetrable retaining walls – was quickly misunderstood. Ugly catcalls during Sheryl Crow’s midafternoon set on Friday tipped organizers to an “element in the crowd that were here for more than just great music,” and by Friday evening gripes about exorbitant water prices had risen to an angry pitch. (As the Woodstock ‘99 attendees who appear in contemporary interviews point out, festival security had also confiscated the water fans brought with them.) Even on Woodstock’s first day, euphoria was curdling into rage as logistics faltered and the heat index rose.
If they were searching bags for water, they weren’t frisking people’s socks or waistbands for marijuana and mushrooms, because as both organizers and attendees point out in Trainwreck, everybody at Woodstock ‘99 was “high as balls.” By Friday night, it was time for Korn to take the stage, and the nu metal outfit, riding high on aggressive Follow the Leader singles like “Got the Life” and “Freak on a Leash,” seemed primed to be the burning fuse on a riotous time bomb. “The crowd went ballistic,” a former Woodstock security guard says, and in the resulting swirl of mosh pits and churn of hundreds of thousands of fans, it was all anyone could do just to not fall down and be trampled. To everyone – festival security, the concertgoers themselves, MTV presenter Ananda Lewis – it was abundantly clear that Woodstock ‘99’s promoters and planners had not prepared for this level of intensity, and it was only the first day.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? In 2021, the HBO anthology series Music Box debuted with Woodstock ‘99: Peace, Love and Rage, which covers much the same ground as Trainwreck and also includes interviews with the promoters, MTV personnel, and everyday fans who witnessed the festival firsthand. But Woodstock ‘99 isn’t the only disaster to receive the double doc treatment. While Netflix features Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, chronicling the most contemporary example of a festival fiasco, Hulu also gets into the act with FYRE FRAUD.
Our Take: With so much documentary footage being applied to the specific batch of crazy that Woodstock ‘99 became, the music festival has become a kind of meta-anthropological touchstone for the pervading forces of culture at the end of last century. Before a teetering speaker tower that blasts Limp Bizkit, Tyler Durden, Bill Clinton, Kenny from South Park, and the Taco Bell Chihuahua dance and ululate around a raging bonfire, wishing grim death on Y2K. But is that really what happened? Was Woodstock ‘99, despite all of its flaws and destruction, really the sublimation of an entire generation’s rotting core? Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99, like Woodstock ‘99: Peace, Love and Rage before it, seems more willing to point out the crazy – the shortages, the heat, the male toxicity, the vandalism – but then push on only with causal sketches. In Trainwreck, a journalist highlights Fight Club and American Pie as damaging nineties riffs on violence and sexuality from exclusively male points of view. But then the doc cuts back to Woodstock staffers who place a lot of the fest’s resulting bedlam on cost cuts, ignorance about the booking of largely male acts, and baseline issues of unpreparedness. It’s OK if Trainwreck just wants to chronicle the horror show. Some bad shit definitely popped off. But the answers to larger questions about the forces at work in American culture in the nineties aren’t necessarily to be found in the flames of Woodstock’s second revival.
Sex and Skin: Trainwreck emphasizes that the roaming camera crews of Woodstock ‘99’s pay-per-view feed encouraged wild behavior. (“Crazy footage was the goal,” says Aaron Sadovsky, the PPV producer.) But the employment here in supercut form of so many instances of nudity and body spraying – male and female genders are represented, but it’s mostly female – feels exploitative.
Parting Shot: “Woodstock ‘99 day one!” the stage announcer shouts as aerials play across the gathered thousands. “Pow!” And then a clip of Stephen Baldwin appears. Baldwin, who wears a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of a recently-minted dot com and must have been at Woodstock to promote his 1999 film The Sex Monster, in which he played a toxic male yuppie, address the crowd. “I think we need to see a whole hell of a lot more!”
Sleeper Star: We’ll go with Tom and Keith here. These two were 16 when they attended Woodstock ‘99, and they retain a certain knuckleheaded charm in their present day interviews. They just wanted to claw their way to the front row for Korn’s set. Not because of some boiling desire to stoke mosh pit violence, but because the primal opening notes of “Blind” beckoned them. Give ‘em a break. It was their first concert ever.
Most Pilot-y Line: To frontman Jonathan Davis’ mind, the roiling throng that gathered for Korn’s set made the atmosphere electric, no matter what it portended for the days to come. “There’s no drug, there’s no nothing on this planet that can give you that fucking feeling of having a crowd in your hand like that.”
— Decider (@decider) August 4, 2022
Our Call: STREAM IT. It’s interesting to revisit 1999, to look at the crackly VHS footage and say “What did it all mean?”, especially in the context of the decade that came next. Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99 doesn’t dig all the way into those larger questions. But it does offer a primer, and its share of insights.
Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges
- music documentaries
- Stream It Or Skip It
- Trainwreck: Woodstock '99
- Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage
Music Box: Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage | Watch the Movie on HBO | HBO.com.Which Woodstock 99 documentary is better? ›
Curious how the two stack up to one another, and whether there was any additional information that might have been overlooked, I watched it and can safely say that yes, HBO's documentary is better and yes, it does contain a lot more information than Netflix's Trainwreck.Is Woodstock 1999 on Netflix? ›
Release. The trailer for Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 was released on July 20, 2022, and the documentary was released on Netflix on August 3, 2022.How many died in Woodstock 1999? ›
However, it didn't take long before it all went downhill. A heat wave with little water, poor organization, sexual assault, and an audience not afraid to light a fire plagued the three-day festival, ultimately leaving three people dead.How many episodes of Woodstock 99 are on Netflix? ›
The three-part series Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 explores what went wrong on the festival's 30th anniversary.Is the Woodstock documentary on HBO or Netflix? ›
Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage premiered on July 23, 2021 (the 22nd anniversary of the concert's first day), on HBO and HBO Max.Is Woodstock 99 worth watching? ›
The three-part documentary series is a very comprehensive look at Woodstock '99. The filmmakers let the footage speak for itself. August 12, 2022 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…How much did they charge for water at Woodstock 99? ›
They charged $4 for a bottle of water (the equivalent of $7today) and between $8 and $10 for a slice of pizza, a sandwich, or a burrito (today, about $18), at an event that had prohibited bringing provisions from outside and for which concertgoers had paid $150 ($266 today).Was Limp Bizkit to blame for Woodstock 99? ›
As the new three-part film shows, tensions in the huge 400,000-plus crowd led to riots, arson, multiple cases of sexual assault and even three (accidental) deaths. For over 20 years, blame for the Woodstock '99 disaster has been laid at the door of Limp Bizkit, most notably by the festival's organiser John Scher.What was the secret closing act at Woodstock 99? ›
The final act at Woodstock '99 was the Red Hot Chili Peppers. During the band's closing set, the festival organizers handed out 100,000 candles to the crowd for a staged vigil mourning the victims of the Columbine school shooting, which took place a few months prior.
Stephanie Frizzel ultimately emerged from Woodstock '99 relatively unscathed. But many other women weren't so fortunate. In the festival's aftermath, stories of sexual assault and harassment that took place at Woodstock '99 abounded in the media.Did Woodstock 99 make money? ›
Tickets purchased at the gate cost $180. There were about 400,000 attendees. A total of 186,983 tickets were sold according to reports shortly after the festival, "a gross take of $28,864,748" at the time. Ticket sales were advertised as being capped at 250,000, the capacity of the venue.Who cleaned up Woodstock 99? ›
To handle the 1,200 tons of solid waste that was expected to be generated at the event, Woodstock '99 planners established a waste management group consisting of three separate organizations. Woodstock '99 Waste Management was in charge of overall planning, on-site management and some cleaning/ collection.What was the most violent Woodstock? ›
The back story
Five years prior to '99, there had been a Woodstock '94 festival that also ended in catastrophe. Storms meant that the site was turned into a huge mudbath, more than double the attendees expected turned up (estimated around 350,000) meaning that the crowd couldn't be safely monitored and two people died.
How much did Woodstock '99 cost and what did tickets sell for? Event goers who purchased a ticket for Woodstock '99 paid anywhere between $150 and $180, according to MTV. They also had to spend roughly $4 or higher for things like water and small snacks.Where did people go to the bathroom at Woodstock? ›
It turns out that there were only 600 toilets available for the estimated 500,000 people who attended the festival on August 15-17, 1969, at Max Yasgur's farm in upstate New York.What happened on day 3 of Woodstock 99? ›
While nudity at Woodstock 69′ was common, the attendees of the 99′ version of this festival were unprepared for the disrespect to women that occurred. What is this? By day three, the festival was a mess, with garbage strewn everywhere and sewage contaminating the water. Many attendees left.What is the new Woodstock 99 documentary called? ›
Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 (TV Mini Series 2022) - IMDb.What are the other Woodstock 99 documentaries? ›
- Don't F*** With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer. ...
- Tiger King: The Doc Antle Story. ...
- Mommy Dead And Dearest. ...
- The Keepers. ...
- Food, Inc. ...
- Class Action Park. ...
- Blackfish. ...
- Closed For Storm.
Summer of Soul - Hulu.
As all the talking heads in Netflix's new docuseries Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 agree, Korn was the band that the majority of the 250,000-plus festivalgoers were most stoked to see on day one.How many people were taped at Woodstock 99? ›
With about 220,000 people in attendance and another 10,000 working the festival, Woodstock '99 temporarily made the festival site the third most populated city in New York state.Are there two documentaries about Woodstock 99? ›
Spoiler Alert: A large faction of Woodstock 99 attendees did not handle it well at all. That event, like the Fyre Festival, got not one but two documentaries exposing all the ways in which that festival was under prepared.What is the trigger warning for Woodstock 99? ›
The docuseries features rampant drug use, nudity, descriptions of sexual violence and physical violence, scenes with violence (destruction of property and general mayhem), and swear words.How hot did it get at Woodstock 99? ›
In what might be the understatement of the year, 1999's Woodstock failed. With an estimated 400,000 people on site, temperatures reaching nearly 40 degrees, a lack of available water and a feisty lineup (think Rage Against The Machine, Limp Bizkit, Red Hot Chilli Peppers), things started to get awfully heated.Did Woodstock 99 have showers? ›
The Showers Were Horrifying
One thing Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 glossed over was the terrible condition of the showers–if you could even call them that. The shower area was a huge, makeshift stall hastily constructed with plywood: one side for the guys, one side for the girls.
It took a decade for the Woodstock organizers to turn a profit. All told, Roberts, Rosenman, Lang and Kornfeld spent nearly $3.1 million ($15 million in today's money) on Woodstock—and took in just $1.8 million.Was Rage Against the Machine at Woodstock 99? ›
In 1999, Rage Against The Machine took to the stage at Woodstock Festival for a headline set.Did Jewel leave Woodstock 99 early? ›
Singer-songwriter Jewel graced the stage on the final day of Woodstock '99 after many festivalgoers had already left due to exhaustion and unsanitary conditions.What was the crowd incident with Limp Bizkit? ›
Jessica Anna Michalik (7 January 1985 – 31 January 2001) was an Australian girl from Sydney, born to Polish immigrants, who died as a result of asphyxiation five days after being crushed in a mosh pit during the 2001 Big Day Out music festival during a performance by headlining act Limp Bizkit.
What the festival did not give birth to were any babies. That's right: There were no babies born at Woodstock.Who was pregnant at Woodstock? ›
Joan Baez took the stage of Woodstock a little before 1 a.m. on the first evening, following sets by Ravi Shankar, Melanie Safka, and Arlo Guthrie. She was six months pregnant and missing her husband David Harris, who was in a Texas prison for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War.Who was the surprise performer at Woodstock 99? ›
Jimi Hendrix pushed them over the edge. The crowd at Woodstock '99 was cranky enough coming into the final day, thanks to 100-degree heat, $12 bottles of water and the toilets from hell. But at least there was supposed to be a big surprise act coming on at the end, after Red Hot Chili Peppers.How many Porta potties were at Woodstock 99? ›
3,600: Number of portable toilets on the grounds. 9,000: Number of Woodstock employees.Who made the most money at Woodstock? ›
So it was certainly justified that Jimi Hendrix was billed as the overall headliner at Woodstock in 1969, and that he commanded the highest paycheck of all performers. Hendrix was paid $18,000 for appearing at Woodstock, which is the equivalent of about $125,000 today.How much was a bottle of water at Woodstock? ›
Here's what happened. Set on a hard tarmac ex air-force base, Woodstock '99's grounds provided little to no shade. High temperatures soon got to the crowd, who had limited access to water. Small bottles were priced at $4 a pop (that would be $7 today), with the company supplier rumoured to be co-owned by the promoter.Did they clean up after Woodstock? ›
Crates, plastic, and clothes were strewn about, and the farm's green grass was trampled into oblivion. (Frankly, it looked like a lot of places when humans are done with them.) But in truth the clean up that followed was quick and thorough, helped by some 8,000 attendees who volunteered to help.How many people were hospitalized after Woodstock 99? ›
How many people were injured or taken unwell at Woodstock 99? Pitchfork reports that there were 1,200 admission to the onsite medical facilities during Woodstock 99. The night of Saturday 24 July, 1999, saw 125 patients treated per hour at the two medical tents near the main stage.What was the worst part of Woodstock 99? ›
However, at Woodstock '99 elements of poor management, budget cuts, high temperatures, misogyny, inadequate security, the music, a disgruntled crowd forced to pay high prices, and the lack of sanitation were a disastrous cocktail, eventually spilling over into violence, sexual assault, riots and even death.What was worse Woodstock 69 or 99? ›
The original Woodstock festival in 1969 was honored with a 30th-anniversary music festival in 1999. The '69 festival was about music, peace, and love, while the '99 festival ended in violence and debauchery. However, both festivals struggled with food supply and traffic.
Mud is synonymous with Woodstock (even though 1999's was raw human waste), but Woodstock '94 took the crown for being the muddiest. Day 1 was hot and dry, but incessant rain on Day 2 turned much of the field to mud.Is Woodstock 99 on Amazon Prime? ›
Prime Video: Music Box: Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage.What's the Woodstock documentary on Netflix called? ›
2022 | Maturity Rating:TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentaries. Woodstock 1969 promised peace and music, but its '99 revival delivered days of rage, riots and real harm.What network is the Woodstock documentary on? ›
Currently you are able to watch "Woodstock" streaming on Max, Max Amazon Channel.Was Woodstock 99 aired on TV? ›
Woodstock 1999 was simulcast on pay-per-view television, with early reports of 500,000 purchases. In addition to documenting the performers, MTV's pay-per-view coverage included coverage of the site and vox pop interviews with attendees, which some reporters later considered to resemble gonzo journalism.Did anyone get charged for Woodstock 99? ›
Find out here… Although the figures differ, reportedly 42 to 44 people were arrested during the festival, while ten state troopers and two state police supervisors were also believed to be demoted or suspended for their behaviour at the festival, and one prison guard was charged with sexual assault.What was the lawsuit against Woodstock 99? ›
UTICA (AP) – The promoter of Woodstock '99 and Oneida County are being sued by a Virginia woman who claims she was sexually assaulted and raped by three men. The suit claims security precautions at the four-day concert at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park were inadequate.What happened at trainwreck Woodstock 99? ›
As Trainwreck: Woodstock 99, which is split into three episodes, shows, the event organisers failed to account for the festival goers' basic safety and sanitation, ultimately culminating in the festival's infrastructure being torched and – as it later emerged – women being groped, sexually assaulted, and raped.What was the temperature at Woodstock 99? ›
With an estimated 400,000 people on site, temperatures reaching nearly 40 degrees, a lack of available water and a feisty lineup (think Rage Against The Machine, Limp Bizkit, Red Hot Chilli Peppers), things started to get awfully heated.