How Woodstock ‘99 devolved into violence and anarchy, as shown in new HBO documentary

The 1999 Woodstock music festival was held in Rome, New York, on a decommissioned Air Force base. Photo courtesy of HBO.

The iconic 1969 Woodstock music festival in upstate New York defined a generation. And for the past half-century, nostalgic Baby Boomers worked to recapture that lightning in a bottle. They tried to do so in 1994 with a 25th anniversary concert famous for its inclement weather. It was a rain-soaked festival that culminated in a good-natured mud fight between the crowd and the East Bay punk rockers Green Day.

The success of Woodstock ‘94 inspired the festival creators to do it all again five years later — with some of the biggest acts of the late 90s. The artists were mostly men and only three women: Jewel, Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morrisette. 

After three days of triple-digit temperatures and four-dollar water, the concert descended into chaos. There was violence, arson, and sexual assaults. It was a truly toxic environment that — when you look at it now in a new documentary — has a similar feel to the January 6 insurrection. The film is “Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage,” streaming now on HBO.

Credits

Guest:

  • Garret Price - director of “Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage”