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While the original Woodstock festival in 1969 was a historic love-in of peace and music, the event marking its 30th anniversary in the late 90s could not have been more of a stark contrast after it descended into sheer chaos.
New Netflix documentary Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99 follows the four-day festival as things went from bad to worse, with state troopers eventually called in to diffuse the mayhem.
A synopsis from Netflix says: “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.
“Utilizing 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 fueled three days of utter chaos.”
The peaceful picture painted by the original festival became a distant memory as the mood was replaced by a heady mix of violence, misogyny and arson - not to mention the 'tinted' water supply, which ended up being contaminated by faecal matter.
One point in the docu-series shows Fatboy Slim’s DJ set being derailed by a stolen van that was spotted being driven through the crowd.
"I became aware of something that I thought was a kind of floating dance platform, like a podium, with about 20-30 people on it, which turned out to be a van,” he recalls.
Elsewhere in the docu-series, we also see festivalgoers attempting to tear down audio towers or looting ATMs, with things drawing to a particularly dramatic close on the final day when people began to torch the site.
This included 12 trailers – all of which had gasoline inside them – which ended up dramatically exploding, leaving the event to burn to the ground in an angry blaze.
After watching the three-part film, many viewers couldn't believe what they'd seen, with one person tweeting: “It’s been a long time since a documentary genuinely has shocked me, but the Netflix series on Woodstock 99 is one of the wildest things I have EVER seen #Woodstock99 #TrainwreckWoodstock99.”
Someone else wrote: "Woodstock 99 documentary is more horrifying than most Horror movies I’ve seen. It’s a s**t storm of violence and debauchery, most concerning is John Schers and the late Micheal Lang’s attitudes, absolutely no accountability, and blood is on their hands #Woodstock99."
A third said: "Every five minutes in the woodstock '99 documentary someone goes 'now THIS is the moment that really poured gasoline on the fire' until someone actually does go and pour gasoline on a fire."
A fourth added: "I still can’t believe they even let us keep having music festivals after Woodstock 99."
Wow. Trainwreck: Woodstock 99. I don’t even have the words.— Joy Taylor (@JoyTaylorTalks) August 5, 2022
Me watching the Woodstock 99 doc: “Alright, this is out of control. The mayhem is too much.”— Nick Simon (@Nick_JSimon) August 4, 2022
Woodstock 99 every five minutes: pic.twitter.com/XGqA3DhoL2
Promoter John Sher has also come under fire for comments made in the documentary about the festival’s four reported rapes – among many other sexual assaults.
“Woodstock was like a small city, you know?” he says.
“All things considered, I’d say that there would probably be as many or more rapes in any sized city of that… but it wasn’t anything that gained enough momentum so that it caused any on-site issues, other than, of course, the women it happened to."
Needless to say, viewers were left raging, with one writing: "Tainted water isn’t the worst thing you’ll see in ‘Trainwreck’ the #Woodstock99 doco, John Scher is. Suggesting the same amount of r*pes would’ve happened in a town of a similar population and it didn’t ‘cause reason for concern’ and that ‘kids are entitled’? Take ownership!!!"
Another fumed: "John scher basically saying the SA’s at Woodstock were ok because they didn’t ruin the atmosphere or impact the event other than the victims experience’ is actually vile, his greed directly impacted horror show. Vile little gremlin #TrainwreckWoodstock99."
Watch Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99 on Netflix now.
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