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Rage Against the Machine burning the American flag onstage while playing "Killing in the Name" during Woodstock 1999.

Woodstock 1999, performed July 23-25, 1999 was the second large-scale music festival (after Woodstock '94) that attempted to emulate the success of the original Woodstock Festival of 1969. Like the previous concerts with the same name, it was performed in upstate New York, this time in Rome, New York, around 200 miles from the site of the original festival. Approximately 200,000 people attended the festival.[1] Cable network MTV covered the concert extensively and live coverage of the entire weekend was available on pay-per-view. Excerpts from the performances were later released on compact disc and DVD.

Woodstock '99 is remembered for media reports of violence, rape, fires, and an abrupt ending of the show.





The concert was performed at the former Griffiss Air Force Base, a Superfund site.[2]

Prior to the concert, the promoters of the event were determined to avoid the gate-crashing that had occurred at previous festivals, and had characterized the site as "defensible", describing the 12-foot plywood and steel fence intended to keep out those without tickets. About 500 New York State Police Troopers were hired for security.[3]

In addition to two main stages, secondary venues were available including several alternate stages, a night-time rave music tent and a film festival (sponsored by the Independent Film Channel) held in a former airplane hangar.

Woodstock 1999 was conceived and executed as a commercial venture with dozens of corporate sponsors, and included the presence of vendor "malls" and modern acoutrements such as ATMs and e-mail stations.[4]

Tickets for the event were priced at $150 plus service charges,[1] at the time considered costly for a festival of this type.[5]


The festival featured a diverse assortment of acts, and early reviews for many of the acts were positive; critics particularly praised performances by George Clinton, Jamiroquai, James Brown, Sheryl Crow, and Rage Against the Machine.[6][7] However, critical and public attention quickly turned to the deteriorating environment and crowd behavior.



Oppressive heat and difficult environmental conditions marred the festival from early on.

Participants who had not brought sufficient food or water to the show had to buy from onsite vendors, whose merchandise was expensive (a single-serving pizza sold for $12, and 20-ounce bottles of water and soda for $4).[8][9]

The number of toilets installed proved insufficient for the number of attendees. Within a short time, some facilities were unusable and overflowing. People stood in line to access the water fountains, until frustration compelled a few to break the pipes apart to provide water to those in the middle of the line; this in turn caused the creation of large mud pits.


Some crowd violence and looting was reported during the Saturday night performance by Limp Bizkit, including a rendition of the song "Break Stuff". Reviewers of the concert criticized Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst as "irresponsible" for encouraging the crowd to destructive behavior.[10]

Violence escalated the next night during the final hours of the concert as Red Hot Chili Peppers performed. A group of peace promoters led by an independent group called Pax had distributed candles to those stopping at their booth during the day, intending them for a candlelight vigil to be held during the Red Hot Chili Peppers' performance of the song "Under the Bridge".[citation needed] During the band's set, the crowd began to light the candles, some also using them to start bonfires. The hundreds of empty plastic water bottles that littered the lawn/dance area were used as fuel for the fires.[11]

After the Red Hot Chili Peppers were finished with their main set, the audience was informed about "a bit of a problem." An audio tower caught fire, and the fire department was called in to extinguish it. [12]

Back onstage for an encore, the Chili Peppers' lead singer Anthony Kiedis remarked how amazing the fires looked from the stage, comparing them to a scene in the film Apocalypse Now.[13] The band proceeded to play "Sir Psycho Sexy", followed by their rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire". Kiedis later stated in his autobiography that Jimi Hendrix's sister asked the Chili Peppers to play "Fire" in honor of Jimi, and that they were not playing it to encourage the crowd.

Many large bonfires were burning high before the band left the stage for the last time. Participants danced in circles around the fires. Looking for more fuel, some tore off panels of plywood from the supposedly inviolable security perimeter fence. ATMs were tipped over and broken into, trailers full of merchandise and equipment were forced open and burglarized, and abandoned vendor booths were turned over, and set afire.[14]

MTV, which had been providing live coverage, removed its entire crew. MTV host Kurt Loder described the scene in the July 27, 1999 issue of USA Today:

"It was dangerous to be around. The whole scene was scary. There were just waves of hatred bouncing around the place, (...) It was clear we had to get out of there.... It was like a concentration camp. To get in, you get frisked to make sure you're not bringing in any water or food that would prevent you from buying from their outrageously priced booths. You wallow around in garbage and human waste. There was a palpable mood of anger."[15]

After some time, a large force of New York State Troopers, local police, and various other law enforcement arrived. Most had crowd control gear and proceeded to form a riot-line that flushed the crowd to the northwest, away from the stage located at the eastern end of the airfield. Few of the crowd offered strong resistance and they dispersed quickly back toward the campground and out the main entrance.[16]


Police later reported that at least four rapes had occurred during the concert.[17] Seven arrests were made on the final night of the concert and, afterward, police reviewed video footage, hoping to identify and hold accountable looters who, amid the chaos, had not been arrested. Approximately 12 trailers, a small bus and a number of booths and portable toilets were burned in the fray. Six people were injured.[18]

Members of the National Organization for Women later protested outside the New York offices of one of the concert promoters.[19] Several lawsuits by concert-goers against the promoters for dehydration and distress were announced. [20]

Critics later decried the use of the Woodstock brand name for such an event as "crass commercialization" and decried "concert organizers who gouged the kids with grossly overpriced water, beer, and food".[21] Tom Morello, the politically-active guitarist for festival performers Rage Against the Machine later "suggested an affinity between the looters at the event."[21]


No groups that performed at the original Woodstock festival took the stage at Woodstock 1999, although John Entwistle of The Who performed a solo set, and Mickey Hart, drummer of the Grateful Dead, played with his band Planet Drum. Other performers included:

July 23

July 24

July 25


Music from Woodstock 1999 was released on a two-disc compact disc set, Woodstock 1999. The album features 32 performing artists, and was released on Epic Records in October 1999.

A DVD of concert highlights, also entitled Woodstock 1999 was released in March 2000. It features one song each from 28 of the participating acts.

See also


  1. ^ a b Wartofsky, Alona (1999-07-27). "Woodstock '99 Goes Up in Smoke". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  2. ^ NPL Sites in New York | National Priorities List | US EPA
  4. ^ Maglitta, Joseph (1999). "Woodstock '99: Think E-Commerce, Dude". Computerworld 33 (33): 42. 
  5. ^ Bennet, Andy (2004). Remembering Woodstock. England: Ashgate Publishing Limited. p. 36. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Gangadeen, Paul (1999-07-30). "Live Reviews: Woodstock". Chart. Archived from the original on 2000-09-29. Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  7. ^ Wiskirchen, Julie. "Woodstock '99: I Will Survive. I Will. I Will. I WILL.". Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  8. ^ "Woodstock '99: What the Hell Happened?". U.S. Music Vault. 1999-07-26. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  9. ^ Caldwell, Christopher (1999). "When in Rome…". National Review 51 (16): 29. 
  10. ^ a b Jeff Stark (1999-07-27). "What A Riot". Salon. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  11. ^ 'In the end, Woodstock burned' Article by Daniel Rubin, originally from the New York Inquirer, reprinted at, website found 2009-08-09.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Steven Rochlin (1999). "Woodstock 99". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  14. ^ 'Peace, love, music ... then arson, vandalism at end of Woodstock '99 ' Article by John Kekis, reprinted at, website found 2009-08-09. A concertgoer is quoted as saying 'this is not the real Woodstock, they messed up... the whole meaning of Woodstock.'
  15. ^ MTV's Loder flees out of control fest. USA Today; truncated version available at url= 
  16. ^ "Repeated Violence". The Lantern. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  17. ^ Bill Wyman (1999-07-29). ""Three Days of Peace, Love and Rape."". Salon. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  18. ^ "Police investigate alleged rapes at Woodstock '99". CNN. 1999-07-29. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  19. ^ Lewis, Robyn (1999-08-21). Newsline. 
  20. ^ Hiatt, Brian (1999-08-17). "Lawyers Plan To Sue Woodstock Organizers For Negligence". VH1 news. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  21. ^ a b Gottdiener, Mark (2000). New Forms of Consumption: Consumers, Culture, and Commodification. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 220. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af "Woodstock 1999 CD listing,". 
  23. ^ Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin. "Big Money Hustlas". in Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 444–455. ISBN 09741846083. 
  24. ^ Smuggled Sounds: Woodstock '99: Festival of "peace" and Music
  25. ^ Sticky Pistil goes to Woodstock
  26. ^ Umbilical Brothers - History
  27. ^ 2 Skinnee J's Live Show Photos
  28. ^ Everclear, Chemical Brothers, And Los Lobos Entertain At Woodstock
  29. ^ "Woodstock 1999". 
  30. ^ Woodstock'99

External links


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