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Trainwreck: Woodstock 99 Review

Surprisingly I had never heard of Woodstock 99, of course everyone has heard of the magical time that was Woodstock 69, so to see how quickly it all went down due to a lot of corporate greed and lack of caring for their audience, plus the fact that heavy metal music and misogyny was so rife in the 90s is both terrifying and fascinating.

Woodstock 99 was the 90s version of Woodstock 69 which was all about love, peace and harmony. However in the 90s heavy metal was rife, there was a lot of turmoil with MTV turning their backs on heavier songs to more family friendly pop, and a lot of the films of this era especially looking at the American Pie series were very heavily misogynistic male focused and saw women as second-class citizens. All of which accumulated at Woodstock when things took dyer turns throughout the weekend.

The festival starts like any other with people turning up to a place that they thought would be full of love, peace and harmony but it’s really just an abandoned airfield with little shade and overpriced food and drinks. The fact that the audience members’ drinks were taken off them at entry too meant that they had no choice but to have these overpriced beverages which added to the anger and turmoil they all felt. Plus on top of that was the fact that the water supply was incredibly tainted and a lot of people got sick, and there was nowhere for the audience to go to get out of the blazing sun just added to that feeling of restlessness.

But these people didn’t turn against their normal human instincts because of a few issues of dehydration and toxic water, they were riled up by the bands that played the festival too, especially Limp Bizkit and its front runner Fred Durst who seemed to relish in the anguish that the audience were feeling. It was really interesting to watch a documentary from a first person perspective of being there because there were so many things that could’ve been done better and differently that could’ve easily avoided what happened in the end.

It seems the straw that broke the camel’s back was the fact that for some reason the organisers thought it would be a good idea to give everyone a candle for the end of the weekend to light up the airfield. They also had teased a big spectacular ending which only turned out to be a video of Jimi Hendrix which riled the crowd up enough to cause them to start setting fire and damaging the property around the festival. Watching it is utterly terrifying because you cannot imagine being in that situation, but at the same time it’s a brilliant look at the human psyche and how far people will go when all rules and law have seemed to be lost. One festival goer put it perfectly when he said it was Lord of the Flies, and as an outside perspective it’s really exciting and intriguing to watch, but being in that moment, especially as the organisers and workers must’ve been terrifying.

In the end a lot of the fans got blamed for the destruction because of course they were the ones that caused it but they were not the ones that bought themselves to that point of anger and upset. I believe a lot of the blame has to be put on the organisers as well, not only for removing people’s water supplies on the first day but also creating an event that they knew they could cash in on and not doing the right proceeders to make sure that everyone was happy there.

If you want to learn more about Woodstock 99 or have never heard of it and want to know what it is I highly recommend this documentary. It’s absolutely brilliant to hear first hand accounts of what happened there and see it happen live as well. It’s a brilliant look at humanity and how easily people can turn on one another when things get tough, but what I found the most interesting was how many of the festival goers that they interviewed for this documentary said they would happily go again in a heartbeat.

What do you think of Woodstock 99?

Until next time.

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