Trainwreck: Woodstock 99 on Netflix, A Docuseries Look At the Disastrous Centurys End Music Festival

Trainwreck: Woodstock 99 on Netflix, A Docuseries Look At the Disastrous Centurys End Music Festival ...

With the three-episode documentary Trainwreck: Woodstock 99, the history of Woodstock 99 and how it became a meme of music festivals is revisited once again for Netflix. What started as an ambitious attempt to recreate (and monetize) the OG 1969 festival in a shambles of supply issues, logistic snafus, violence, and widespread property damage


Opening Shot: Monday, July 26, 1999, and a grainy VHS shot out of a car window as the wreckage of Woodstock 99 is assessed. Good God, a man says. Is this Bosnia? asks another, lingering on the hulk of a burned-out automobile.

In Trainwreck: Woodstock 99, Michael Lang describes the idea as being straightforward. Purchase a stage at which 400,000 ticket holders may camp, and pay for the whole event as a pay-per-view package. Despite the fact that Woodstock's first revival was overrun by mud and gate-crashers, it was primarily about profit.

The first part of this three-part series, alternating interviews with Lang, Scher, and Joe Griffo, the former mayor of Rome, New York, who all claim their intentions were admirable. But all of that hype and revelry about the impenetrable retaining walls on Friday night was quickly misunderstood. (As the Woodstock 99 attendees who appear in contemporaneous interviews point out, festival security also confiscated the water fans they brought with them.)

As both organizers and attendees remind us in Trainwreck, everyone at Woodstock 99 was high as balls. The nu metal outfit, riding high on aggressive Follow the Leader singles like Got the Life and Freak on a Leash, seemed poised to be the starting point of a riotous time bomb.

Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage is the first episode of HBO's anthology series Music Box, which covers much the same topics as Trainwreck, but also includes interviews with promoters, MTV personnel, and everyday viewers who witnessed the festival firsthand. Hulu is also involved in the film Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

The fact that Woodstock 99 is the subject of a documentary on the end of last century, the festival seems more willing to sketch out the crazy, the heat, the violence, and the death of an entire generation's core, rather than to document them in the course of a second revival.

Trainwreck points out that the Woodstock 99 pay-per-view feed's roaming camera crews encouraged impulsive behavior. (Crazy footage was the goal, according to Aaron Sadovsky, the PPV producer.) But the employment here in supercut form of so many instances of nudity and body spraying male and female genders is represented, although its mostly female nature feels exploitative.

The Sex Monster, a 1999 film starring a toxic male yuppie, is featured on Woodstock 99 day one! the stage announcer shouts as aerials sweep over the assembled crowd. Pow!

Sleeper Star: Well go with Tom and Keith here. They just wanted to get to the front row for the Korns set, not because of some boiling desire to stoke mosh pit violence, but because the primal opening notes of Blind beckoned them. It was their first concert ever.

Most Pilot-y Line: No matter what the outcome might be like for Korns' set, the roiling throng made the atmosphere electric. There is no medicine on this planet that can give you that fucking sensation of having a crowd in your hand like that.

STREAM IT. It's interesting to revisit 1999 and look at the bleak VHS footage and wonder What did it all mean in the context of the decade that followed. But Woodstock 99 does provide a primer and its own insight.

You may also like: