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22 Jul 10:47am

‘Like a horror film’: revisiting the Fyre-esque disaster of Woodstock 99

The Guardian
A new documentary surveys the mess of Woodstock 1999 – a disaster of poor planning and a microcosm of toxic masculinity, raunch culture and entitlement It would be easy, as the director Garrett Price says in the opening seconds of his documentary Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage, to structure a film about the disastrous music festival held on a July weekend in 1999 as a comedy. The reboot of Woodstock for an audience mostly born after the original festival in 1969 was a proto-Fyre meltdown of grotesque American excess, a panoply of late 90s nonsense – Kid Rock strolling on stage in a white fur coat, Limp Bizkit as a main draw, mostly young, white, male Gen-Xers paying to see nu metal acts in a poorly managed swamp of filth. But the easy jabs, the sheen of cultural nostalgia over any Woodstock, particularly the first one, mask what actually, says Price, “played out much more like a horror film”. Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage captures an event that devolved spectacularly, with a palpable current of misogyny, white male rage, entitlement and cynical commercialism. The facilities built at an old air force base in Rome, New York – the irony of a new Woodstock held at a military facility – collapsed under the weight of 200,000 visitors. With water sold at $4, many festival-goers went without in temperatures over 100F (37.8C). Over 1,200 were treated for medical conditions; three people died. It’s a miracle it wasn’t more – the festival ended in riots, as attendees whipped up by three days of anarchy-fueled music burned the fairgrounds. Forty-four were arrested. There were 10 reported sexual assaults, but a cursory glance at the footage – male attendees groping topless women with glee, as if free love equates to free violation – assures
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