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  • Gareth Crook

Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage (2021) - 8/10

It’s a bad scene man. A bad scene. I’ve just watched Woodstock, the cover up piece about the original festival. Woodstock 99, happening in the internet era is more famously known as a shit show, so I figured this might be a more truthful account. I’ve not seen many/any HBO Documentaries. On the strength of this, they’re a bit like a Channel 5 production in the U.K. Not that it’s full of questionable ‘facts’, just that it’s a bit cheap. It starts surprisingly talking about Woodstock ‘94… which I’ll confess I though this film was about having got my dates mixed up. To be honest, I didn’t realise there were two post 60s events. We’re told here that ‘94 was a success, but that’s not how I remember it reported. The mud bath, NIN caked in it on stage, extortionate prices, utter carnage. It’s another puff piece. 99 is a different beast. New site. Tighter security. Emphasis on the line up rather than the spiritual freedom hippy thing. Not that the line up was great. It’s that typical American festival. A few great names peppered in with a lot of shit. There’s not a lot of the music covered here through, it’s really about the disaster that unfolded… again. Before we get to 99, 69 is put into perspective. Quickly, but truthfully with food shortages, the army stepping in, calling bullshit on the rose tinted view we’ve been fed. Echoing what I’ve said in my Woodstock review, so I won’t repeat myself. It sets the tone for what’s to come. When I say the music’s not covered here, I mean the sets or even songs don’t play out in full. This doc isn’t about music appreciation. It’s about people being idiots. Pissed up misogynistic white trash getting angry and bouncing around to Korn, Metallica and Rage Against the Machine. It’s not easy to watch. Be it the open sexual harassment or Wyclef Jean murdering The Star Spangled Banner. The brain dead crowd are an advert for just how stupid 90s American youth are and how corrupt the organisers were. Add on the soaring temperatures and the greedy organisers charging $4 for a bottle of water, that still sounds a lot 20 years on and you’ve got the spark for another disastrous Woodstock. Then comes the mud. That’s not mud. It’s human waste from the overflowing inadequate toilets. Honestly, it’s just keeps finding lower and lower levels. As horrendous as the event itself was. As a doc this is a good cover all take on what happened. It’s not clever. Just a ton of archive, stitched together with talking heads putting it all in context. There’s some really interesting points put across. Like the early 90s bands like Nirvana and REM breaking down the troglodyte views that had came before, only for them to return with the “Frat boy rape culture” of Nu Metal. It’s pretty fucking depressing. By the time we get to Limp Bizkit I’m thinking of walking out. It’s too much. How much negative shit can you pile into one film? This band really should be consigned to the scrap heap of musical history. I hated them in the 90s and apparently even more now. The fact that they pulled the biggest crowd of the weekend tells you everything you need to know. Fred Durst is the classic moronic American. Too dumb to understand he’s in a position of power and should be looking to contain the crowd, not insight a riot. It is all very dramatic. It plays to the negative, but you know what, it should. I love live music, love festivals, love a lot of the bands that played at Woodstock 99, but the truth is this event was dangerous. The organisers should be held responsible. They’re here on camera and don’t seem to fathom their responsibility. They should be held accountable for the loss of life, for the rape. Held up to every promoter as an example of what not to do. As the fires are lit, it’s hard not to stare at the screen in disbelief. It is quite unbelievable. Not an award winning documentary, but it is an important one. Well done to the makers for finally telling the truth about the Woodstock brand.



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