WOODSTOCK 99: PEACE, LOVE, AND RAGE unfolds over three blazing hot days and nights of nonstop performances and heaving mosh pits in July 1999, and examines how the festival eventually collapsed under the weight of its own misguided ambition. The musical lineup reflected acts that dominated MTV and radio airwaves at the time and leaned heavily towards artists catering to a young, male demographic. Intense heat, lack of adequate sanitation and access to free drinking water agitated a crowd already at a breaking point. Shortcuts and cost-cutting measures had diminished security, allowing the anger and frustration of the mob to explode into unchecked rioting and destruction. As much as Woodstock 69 became known as a celebration of peace and inclusion, Woodstock 99 became a flashpoint for burgeoning white toxic masculinity.
Brimming with the high-energy vibrancy of a rock documentary, the film takes us onstage with the bands, behind-the-scenes with the organizers and to the cramped campsites, overflowing bathrooms and marauding groups of young men with alarming immediacy and access. The film includes expert insight from multiple points of view, including from organizers Michael Lang and John Scher, as well as from culture critics Wesley Morris, Maureen Callahan and Steven Hyden. First-hand accounts from musicians, including The Roots’ Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Korn’s Jonathan Davis, Moby, Jewel, The Offspring, Creed’s Scott Stapp and festival attendees give an unfiltered perspective of the events, shedding light on how a weekend rooted in music and unity descended into chaos.
Woodstock 99 embodied the zeitgeist not only of the music of the time, but also the angst and attitudes of a generation. The documentary examines if an event rooted in the sentiment and ethos of the 1960s was actually the beginning of a darker sea change in American culture.