Held 30 years after the unique Woodstock, the plan to mount one other musical extravaganza on an deserted navy base in Rome, N.Y. appeared like a good concept at the time. But as the interviews clarify, the three-day live performance got here at a specific second, one the place the anger welling up in the younger (principally) White males who attended, as expressed via the bands that carried out, got here spilling out in ugly and violent methods.
Coinciding with the festival’s twenty second anniversary, director Garret Price’s documentary catapults the viewer again to that not-all-that-long-ago time, when getting separated from your group meant doubtlessly shedding them, earlier than cellphones grew to become ubiquitous.
The simmering tensions might be seen early in the hostility expressed towards sponsoring community MTV, whose shift to teen-oriented teams and acts angered those that felt they had been shedding the channel, having come to see the likes of Metallica, Megadeth and Limp Bizkit.
The sexual politics are additionally disturbing, with attendees having embraced the “Girls Gone Wild” ethos. Many of the girls walked round topless as younger males egged them on, shouting at actress Rosie Perez to disrobe (not in these phrases) when she got here out to introduce an act.
Only three feminine acts had been booked (Jewel, Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morrissette), a clear miscalculation. Moby, additionally amongst the performers, recollects feeling that the state of affairs was “already off the rails” after a few hours, with the crowd turning into more and more scorching, sweaty and risky.
Plumbing broke down and fires broke out, whereas a number of performers appeared to throw the verbal equal of gasoline on them. MTV’s Davey Holmes singles out Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst for his recklessness in winding up the crowd, noting, “Even a liquor commercial says, ‘Please drink responsibly.'”
The most jarring side of “Woodstock 99” is the extent to which the photos right here really feel like a preview of coming sights, capturing resentment that has echoed via the previous 20 years on varied fronts. Journalist Maureen Callahan cites the “umbilical cord between the dark, sexual, cultural, political underbelly of the country at that time and where we are now.”
As the documentary notes, the troubles skilled at Woodstock had been remedied at subsequent gatherings, with the profitable launch of the Coachella Music Festival not lengthy after. Yet “Woodstock 99” makes a compelling case that the sewage from that weekend did not cease flowing when the music stopped, metaphorically if not actually.
“Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage” premieres July 23 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.