What began as a reincarnation of 1969 infamous festival Woodstock and promised a festival of ‘three days of peace and music’ soon turned into violence and mayhem, as new Netflix documentary Trainwreck explores.
In 1999, 30 years after the original festival and five years after a revived festival, Woodstock festival took place in New York, with more than 400,000 people buying tickets.
But it wasn’t the Flower Power the hippy era promised.
Instead, Woodstock ’99 turned into violence and riots, with women particularly at risk.
Hot temperatures and high prices (with reports of water bottles charged at $4 and few free taps) added into the mix, and the festival descended into chaos.
While there were very few female performers over the weekend, with the line-up including the likes of Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, sexism was particularly rife.
One spectator told MTV at the time: ‘At one point I saw this girl, a very petite girl, maybe 100 pounds, who was body-surfing above the crowd and either fell in or was pulled into a circle in the mosh pit.
‘These gentlemen, probably in the 25–32 age range, looked as though they were holding her down. They were holding her arms; you could see she was struggling.’
The same person added to the publication that he witnessed a gang-rape.
‘Five rapes and numerous cases of sexual harrassment and assault’ took place, according to an archived Billboard publication, while MTV elsewhere reported that two women were allegedly gang-raped.
Bonfires were set off after candles were given out during the Red Hot Chili Peppers set, and on the final night of the festival, a car went up in flames.
That wasn’t all.
Over the weekend, there were 44 arrests made, 1,200 admissions to onsite medical facilities, and three people died.
A 24-year-old man died from a heat-related illness, while one woman, 28, was hit by a car when she left the concert, and a 44-year-old man with a pre-existing heart condition died of cardiac arrest in a Woodstock camping site.
In the original Woodstock festival, three people also died: two from drug overdoses and a third, who was aged 17, was run over and killed while sleeping in a sleeping bag, by a tractor that was collecting rubbish.
The official synopsis of Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 reads: ‘Woodstock ‘99 was supposed to be a millennium-defining celebration of peace, love and great music.
‘Instead, the festival degenerated into an epic trainwreck of fires, riots and destruction.
‘Utilising rare insider footage and eyewitness interviews with an impressive list of festival staffers, performers and attendees, this docuseries goes behind the scenes to reveal the egos, greed and music that fuelled three days of utter chaos.’
Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 is available to watch on Netflix.
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