‘Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage’ Review: How a Festival Went Wrong

‘Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage’ Review: How a Festival Went Wrong
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‘Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage’ Review: How a Festival Went Wrong

‘Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage’ Review: How a Festival Went Wrong

It’s slightly surprising that it took so long for a documentary on the 1999 edition of the Woodstock Music Festival to be made. After all, this was an epic debacle that marked an era and deserves more attention than, say, the Fyre Festival, an absurd fiasco from 2017 that crashed before it happened, but which already sparked two films about it.

Garret Price’s HBO doc “Woodstock 99” perfectly captures a cultural, albeit destructive, moment. The first in a documentary series created by Bill Simmons, the film may be captioned “Peace, Love and Rage,” but the first two ingredients were scarce in those scorching July days 22 years ago. The event quickly turned into a hellish landscape of overflowing porta-pots, hungry and thirsty festival-goers, gruesome sexual assaults, arson and even death. Much of the footage is stunning, especially the groping women and crowds of young white men plunging into a frenzy of aggressive stupidity, aimless anger and turbo-boosted misogyny. It’s these guys coming of age as an aggrieved demographic, and it’s scary.

Price attempts to put the festival in context, framing it in a time of economic growth tempered by unease: Bill Clinton’s impeachment and the Columbine High School shooting took place earlier that year, for example, and the anguish of the year 2000 was growing. Add testimonials from participants and journalists, and (too short) snippets of live performances, and the debates often seem rushed. The movie could easily have been longer.

As with most autopsies, “Woodstock 99” tries to figure out how it all went wrong and comes up with a deadly combination of factors: a ruthless environment, thoughtless programming (three female acts did not counterbalance seas of aggro displays like Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, Korn and Metallica) and sloppy logistics. The issue of $ 4 bottled water comes up a lot. It was “a little high,” says John Scher, one of the promoters, before adding coolly: “If you go to a festival, you bring money with you – it was not a festival. poor.”

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Later, Scher, who emerges as the epitome of cynical corporate wickedness, claims that women facing a barrage of verbal and physical abuse were “at least in part to blame for it” because they “were running around naked. “, and accuses the media, including MTV News, of making Woodstock 99 look bad. Even now, he just can’t let go of his illusion that the festival is a success.

Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage
Unclassified. Duration: 1 hour 50 minutes. To watch on HBO platforms.

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