In 1999, around 400,000 partygoers arrived in upstate New York for a festival marking the 30th anniversary of Woodstock. The four-day event was an “unmitigated disaster”, says Stuart Heritage in The Guardian. Whereas the original had free food kitchens and music by Ravi Shankar, Woodstock 99 flogged plastic water bottles for $4 a pop and majored on “mindlessly aggressive nu-metal”. High on drugs and badly dehydrated, many in the crowd turned feral. They pelted MTV hosts with missiles and tore down a sound tower. During Fatboy Slim’s DJ set, someone stole a van and drove it through the middle of the rave tent.
The whole thing, as shown in the new Netflix documentary Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99, was “genuinely terrifying”. But it was also farcical. In one “truly idiotic attempt to revisit the spirit of 1969”, the organisers handed out thousands of lit candles to the crowd, who promptly used them to light as many fires as they could. Meanwhile, Red Hot Chili Peppers were also trying to channel the original Woodstock – by playing Jimi Hendrix’s Fire. Truly, “you couldn’t write a more perfectly sequenced disaster”.