A second attempt to tap into the illustrious legacy of the original Woodstock festival, following a well-received 1994 event, Woodstock ’99 ended up being horribly tainted by allegations of on-site violence and rape, with extreme heat and exploitative vendors contributing to the event’s dark, angry atmosphere.
Held in Rome, upstate New York over the weekend of July 22-25, 1999, the bill featured Metallica. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Korn, Limp Bizkit and Megadeth among the main attractions, and drew some 400,000 music fans to the site.
Limp Bizkit’s set was particularly infamous, with reports of a gang rape in the mosh-pit, and Fred Durst’s band accused of inciting riotous behaviour.
“We turned up and expected people to know what we’re about,” Durst told Metal Hammer in 2016. “We’re about having fun and when I say, ‘Break your fucking face tonight’, I don’t mean it literally. It was a song for people to stand up for themselves against bullies and bad people. If I had known to make that clear, I’d have done that from the very beginning, but I didn’t.
“The whole thing exploded after we did what we normally do at every one of our concerts – bring fun… We get offstage and they removed us from the premises and we were just going, ‘Why?’. They tell me the plywood I was surfing on had been ripped off buildings and I’d incited a riot. We couldn’t fucking believe it.”
“I just wanted to go back out there and I wanted to say something to tell them to calm down and they wouldn’t let me. They gave people peace candles the next day, and they used them to burn the place down and they blamed that on us too. Kurt Loder [MTV presenter] was on TV talking shit about us and we couldn’t believe it.”
Directed by Garret Price, Woodstock 99 will feature interviews with Korn’s Jonathan Davis,The Offspring and more, and will premiere on HBO Max on July 23.