In the pre-millennial witching summer of 1999, about 400,000 people descended on Rome, New York for a revived “Woodstock” music festival that was nowhere near Woodstock (the original or 1994) and arguably lacked good music, or peace, or love. The “apocalypticism” of it all, as Vice put it in 2019, has been revisited many times since, and is now the focus of a new documentary.
What the event did feature, as we’re reminded in the harrowing trailer for HBO’s Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage, was a lot of dehydrated young white men rolling around in porta-potty runoff, forcefully grabbing topless women, setting things on fire, and showing love for the Insane Clown Posse and Limp Bizkit.
Shortly after the festival, the NY Times reported that at least four women had reported being raped.
“We got off the bus, and I was like, ‘Something’s not right,'” says an astute Moby, who performed at the festival and is featured in the documentary.
The film, which is part of HBO’s Music Box series, comes at a moment when much of that era’s pop culture and how it was consumed, from Kids to Britney Spears, is now being acknowledged as exploitative and deeply misogynistic. (A 1999 Rolling Stone cover story begins, “Britney Spears extends a honeyed thigh across the length of the sofa, keeping one foot on the floor as she does so.”)
But the documentary, which is directed by Garret Price and executive produced by Bill Simmons, also traces a line from the attendees of Woodstock ‘99 to the kind of men who showed up at the Capitol on January 6th.
“A lot of that energy just wound up in chat rooms and Reddit boards in 2021,” says New York Times critic Wesley Morris, who’s also featured in the documentary, along with Jewel, The Roots’ Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, and Creed frontman Scott Stapp.
Woodstock 99 comes out on HBO and HBO Max on July 23rd.