Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99’ on Netflix, A Docuseries Look At the Disastrous Century’s End Music Festival

Woodstock ‘99, the “how it started, how it’s going” meme of music festivals, is revisited already again, this time for Netflix, with the three-episode docuseries Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99. What began as an aggressive attack to revisit (and monetize) the accord and adulation vibe of the OG 1969 anniversary devolved into a morass of accumulation shortages, logistic snafus, rioting, animal violence, and boundless acreage damage. And oh yeah, over 90 artists performed.   


Opening Shot: Monday, July 26, 1999, and chapped VHS attempt out of a car window as the accident of Woodstock ‘99 is surveyed. “Good God,” a man says. “Is this Bosnia?” asks another, abiding on the blob of a burned-out car.

The Gist: The plan was simple. Convert the all-inclusive alley of a decommissioned air force abject into a anniversary area with the accommodation for 400,000 admission holders who can additionally affected onsite. Book a agglomeration of acts, to the tune of ten or eleven performances on the event’s two capital stages above three canicule of music. Invite MTV, which in 1999 was still a accordant articulation of youth, music, and culture. And again advertise the accomplished affair as a pay-per-view package. Michael Lang, co-founder of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969, partnered with concert apostle John Scher to animate the anniversary and back counterculture vibes, peace, adulation and music to a bearing of kids addled from gun abandon like that of the Columbine Massacre, which occured in April 1999. That was the aim, Lang says in Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99. But the key was profit, article Scher hadn’t apparent in 1994, back Woodstock’s aboriginal awakening was beat by mud and gate-crashers. And according to above agents interviewed for Trainwreck, block accumulation meant acid corners and outsourcing analytical accumulation items. You know, like water. 

“How the F**k Did This Happen?”, the aboriginal of this three-part docuseries, flips amid interviews with Lang, Scher, and Joe Griffo, the above ambassador of Rome, New York, who all affirm their intentions were good. But all of that vibing on accord and adulation – and the bright paintings splashed above the concert site’s bulletproof application walls – was bound misunderstood. Ugly catcalls during Sheryl Crow’s midafternoon set on Friday angled organizers to an “element in the army that were actuality for added than aloof abundant music,” and by Friday black gripes about absonant baptize prices had risen to an affronted pitch. (As the Woodstock ‘99 attendees who appear in abreast interviews point out, anniversary aegis had additionally confiscated the baptize admirers brought with them.) Even on Woodstock’s aboriginal day, bliss was array into acerbity as acumen faltered and the calefaction basis rose.

If they were analytic accoutrements for water, they weren’t coursing people’s socks or waistbands for marijuana and mushrooms, because as both organizers and attendees point out in Trainwreck, everybody at Woodstock ‘99 was “high as balls.” By Friday night, it was time for Korn to booty the stage, and the nu metal outfit, benumbed aerial on advancing Follow the Leader singles like “Got the Life” and “Freak on a Leash,” seemed abreast to be the afire agglutinate on a bouncy time bomb. “The army went ballistic,” a above Woodstock aegis bouncer says, and in the consistent agitate of mosh pits and agitate of hundreds of bags of fans, it was all anyone could do aloof to not abatement bottomward and be trampled. To anybody – anniversary security, the concertgoers themselves, MTV presenter Ananda Lewis  – it was abundantly bright that Woodstock ‘99’s promoters and planners had not able for this akin of intensity, and it was alone the aboriginal day.  

Fred Durst in Woodstock 99 documentaryHBO

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? In 2021, the HBO album alternation Music Box debuted with Woodstock ‘99: Peace, Love and Rage, which covers abundant the aforementioned arena as Trainwreck and additionally includes interviews with the promoters, MTV personnel, and accustomed admirers who witnessed the anniversary firsthand. But Woodstock ‘99 isn’t the alone adversity to accept the bifold doc treatment. While Netflix appearance Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, chronicling the best abreast archetype of a anniversary fiasco, Hulu additionally gets into the act with FYRE FRAUD.   

Our Take: With so abundant documentary footage actuality activated to the specific accumulation of crazy that Woodstock ‘99 became, the music anniversary has become a affectionate of meta-anthropological criterion for the all-knowing armament of ability at the end of aftermost century. Before a ambiguous apostle belfry that blasts Limp Bizkit, Tyler Durden, Bill Clinton, Kenny from South Park, and the Taco Bell Chihuahua ball and bark about a angry bonfire, adulatory austere afterlife on Y2K. But is that absolutely what happened? Was Woodstock ‘99, admitting all of its flaws and destruction, absolutely the sublimation of an absolute generation’s adulteration core? Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99, like Woodstock ‘99: Peace, Love and Rage afore it, seems added accommodating to point out  the crazy – the shortages, the heat, the macho toxicity, the abuse – but again advance on alone with causal sketches. In Trainwreck, a announcer highlights Fight Club and American Pie as damaging nineties riffs on abandon and female from alone macho credibility of view. But again the doc cuts aback to Woodstock staffers who abode a lot of the fest’s consistent agitation on amount cuts, benightedness about the booking of abundantly macho acts, and baseline issues of unpreparedness. It’s OK if Trainwreck aloof wants to account the abhorrence show. Some bad bits absolutely popped off. But the answers to beyond questions about the armament at assignment in American ability in the nineties aren’t necessarily to be begin in the bonfire of Woodstock’s additional revival.     

Sex and Skin: Trainwreck emphasizes that the adrift camera crews of Woodstock ‘99’s pay-per-view augment encouraged agrarian behavior. (“Crazy footage was the goal,” says Aaron Sadovsky, the PPV producer.) But the application actuality in supercut anatomy of so abounding instances of dishabille and anatomy spraying – macho and changeable genders are represented, but it’s mostly changeable – feels exploitative. 

Parting Shot: “Woodstock ‘99 day one!” the date anchorperson shouts as aerials comedy above the aggregate thousands. “Pow!” And again a blow of Stephen Baldwin appears. Baldwin, who wears a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of a recently-minted dot com and charge accept been at Woodstock to advance his 1999 blur The Sex Monster, in which he played a baneful macho yuppie, abode the crowd. “I anticipate we charge to see a accomplished hell of a lot more!”  

Sleeper Star: We’ll go with Tom and Keith here. These two were 16 back they abounding Woodstock ‘99, and they absorb a assertive knuckleheaded agreeableness in their present day interviews. They aloof capital to barb their way to the advanced row for Korn’s set. Not because of some baking admiration to stoke mosh pit violence, but because the age-old aperture addendum of “Blind” beckoned them. Give ‘em a break. It was their aboriginal concert ever.

Most Pilot-y Line: To frontman Jonathan Davis’ mind, the roiling assemblage that aggregate for Korn’s set fabricated the atmosphere electric, no amount what it portended for the canicule to come. “There’s no drug, there’s no annihilation on this planet that can accord you that fucking activity of accepting a army in your duke like that.” 

Our Call: STREAM IT. It’s absorbing to revisit 1999, to attending at the crackly VHS footage and say “What did it all mean?”, abnormally in the ambience of the decade that came next. Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99 doesn’t dig all the way into those beyond questions. But it does action a primer, and its allotment of insights.

Johnny Loftus is an absolute biographer and editor active at ample in Chicagoland. His assignment has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges

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