Woodstock 99, the cursed festival

From July 22 to 25, 1999, Rome, New York was the scene of a terrible defeat. For Netflix, Jamie Crawford returns for three episodes of about an hour each in this anthology riot.

Fires, thefts, drug floods, sexual assaults: Anthology Chaos: Woodstock 99, a shock documentary on Netflix, looks back at this American festival that has become a nightmare, a disaster that has not been well known and has never been described in all its dysfunctions. The day after the event, at the end of July 1999, which is the celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the original Woodstock, the television news, from Paris to Tokyo, in a short relay only in thick black smoke rising from a ruined place, symbol. in defeat.

The inventory of this tortured period of the music industry just started to unfold in 2021 with a first documentary, Woodstock 99, peace, love and rage on HBO. Anthology Chaos: Woodstock 99directed by Jamie Crawford and offered by Netflix, goes deeper.

A mountain of testimonies was collected and cross-referenced in three episodes of about an hour each (organizers, festival attendees, journalists, rescuers, security officials, health officials public, etc.). It is enough to offer a panoramic vision if the remaining fragments are memories of a time without social networks.

Make a profit

“It was the fall of Hanoi”, Described by Tim Healy, TV producer of the area time, talking about the previous night. “Seems like that Apocalypse Now», exclaimed in archive footage Anthony Kiedis, leader of the Red Hot Chili Peppers when the band returned to the stage for an encore. The fires then spread to the site.

Thousands of festival-goers (advertising sites at the time boasted a total of 250,000 people), distributed 100,000 candles, lit objects that could burn them. Just drunk or drunk with anger after being massaged in bad conditions at the former military airbase in New York State. The tanks of the organization’s trucks parked out front burst into flames as the thieves attacked, among other things, the sales area and cash dispensers.

How did we get here? Lee Rosenblatt, 22 at the time, was aiming for assistant site manager “greed” officers: “We’re taking advantage of these kids.”

The organizers are Michael Lang, founding father of the 1969 Woodstock (who died recently) and his “powerful partner” for the thirtieth anniversary, John Scher, promoter. Both confirm the Anthology Chaos: Woodstock 99. The first appears overwhelmed by the monster-event created while the second admits his motives: “It’s really necessary to make a profit.”

A bottle of water for 65 cents in the city was sold for 4 dollars at the festival, while festival-goers were forced to empty their water bottles when they reached the asphalt tarmac of the white-heated site. temperature above 35 °.

“Not enough security guards”

At the same time, organizational costs are reduced. Samples taken by health services will reveal that some drinking water fountains are contaminated with sewage.

“Woodstock 99 didn’t have enough decent security guards…they wanted to be stingy”, Colin Spear was still criticized, in the production of the time. He made no secret that, to celebrate his 29th birthday during the festival, he would take ecstasy offered by a festival goer. Drugs circulate too freely, security personnel are recruited too quickly and are inadequately trained. The National Guard will be called to the rescue at the end of the festival.

But Woodstock 99 was already rocking in the middle of a rave under a shed. DJ-star Fatboy Slim’s set has been stopped: a van has been hijacked by a festival-goer and slowly driven through the audience.

AJ Srybnik, the rave supervisor at the time, told Netflix that the driver-reveler behind the wheel was confused. This manager discovered “angry” in the back of the van “a 15 or 16 year old girl (…) ankle pants, passed out” while a young man dressed nearby. The American media will talk about it “rape allegations”in a pre-#MeToo era where sexual assault was routinely swept under the rug.

SEE ALSO – [2019] Start of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Woodstock

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