Stop Blaming Woodstock ’99 On Fred Durst -- On Netflix’s New Doc (2022)

Netflix recently released Clusterf*ck: Woodstock ’99, their three-episode documentary series directed by Jamie Crawford exploring the titular music festival. Even though it’s been barely a year since HBO released its own Woodstock ’99 documentary, which you’d think would’ve already scratched this itch, I immediately binged all three episodes of the new version the second they were available. Then I watched them again two nights later when a friend came to visit.

I devoured it all, despite it being largely material I’d already seen, delivering information I already knew. I did it so fast and so reflexively that it forced me to ask myself, why? What is it about this seemingly obscure event from 23 years ago that makes me want to keep reliving it, rehashing it, relitigating it? What answers am I hoping to find this time around?

The last time I sped through two docs about the same thing this eagerly was Netflix and Hulu’s competing Fyre Fest documentaries, so maybe there’s just something endlessly intriguing about watching music festival-goers suffer, cocky festival organizers devoured by their own hubris. And sure, maybe there’s the nostalgia factor. I was 18 when Woodstock ’99 happened, so the time period is etched indelibly in my mind. It’s always luridly fascinating to relive those days of bare breasts, baggy pants, and ICE spiker, when the biggest political issue on most young white kids’ minds was how MTV sucks now and your moms was always trying to tell you what to do.

Yet there’s more to Clusterf**k‘s appeal than simple nostalgia. The music and fashion is safely anachronistic, but the event itself, the way it plays out and is eventually covered, feels like a cultural harbinger. It feels like a coming out party for a certain brand of feckless post-counterculture liberal that’s still with us today. These eternally optimistic yet clueless ex-hippies transform seamlessly into “the man” without even realizing it. Woodstock ’99 feels like a transitional moment, perhaps the first time that people of my generation realized that the counterculture we’d been raised to worship had become the culture, and they were hopelessly out of touch. That they’d keep trying to recycle their youth for new generations without acknowledging that the material conditions that produced it had changed.

Woodstock ’99 was an attempt to recreate Woodstock ’69, when four 20-somethings organized one of the touchstone cultural events of the sixties. 30 years later, some of the same people, notably original Woodstock organizer Michael Lang, tried to do the same thing. Only instead of putting on a cool free party featuring bands they liked for their friends, they’d sell it to their children’s generation, using all the free love imagery that had been floating in the cultural ether for the previous 30 years.

Even in the gesture itself, this self-serving capitalism disguised as pedantic altruism and generational noblesse oblige, you can see the origins of the Silicon Valley messiah complex — the way Google built a sprawling monopoly while espousing “don’t be evil” as a mantra. Instead of choosing acts they knew and understood, it was like Woodstock 99’s organizers just went to radio programmers and invited the top 40 acts, with little regard for how they’d fit with each other or further the stated themes of the festival. In that way, it feels like an early example of trusting “Big Data.”

Chances are you already know the broad strokes of what happened next: the organizers, who hadn’t made enough money on Woodstock ’94 because the fence broke and people got in for free, moved the whole thing to a decommissioned air base. To save more money, they farmed out the logistics out to amoral contractors, confiscated everyone’s water on the way in, skimped on security, and, once 250,000 kids were trapped inside a massive animal pen built atop miles of scorching hot blacktop on the hottest weekend of the year, they gouged them for necessities like food and water while failing to provide the basics like security, trash, and sewage service. All while selling their flesh, exuberance, and eventually, suffering, on Pay Per View. Festival goers watched the price of food and water double and triple during the course of the festival, not yet knowing to call it “surge pricing.”

All weekend the organizers had been stoking rumors of some big closing act surprise — Prince? a reunited Guns And Roses? Michael Jackson? Bob Dylan? — but instead, when the last official act (Red Hot Chili Peppers) came to their encore, the audience received candles for a planned Columbine victim vigil, along with a giant video screen playing old Hendrix footage. At which point the attendees used the candles to torch the venue. Which was, hilariously, treated as a shocking event (Burning Man, which always ends with a big fire, had been chugging along uncontroversially for 13 years already at that point).

(Video) Was Limp Bizkit Really to Blame for Woodstock '99?

It’s funny that the enduring debate of the festival has been “what went wrong?” when it should be blindingly obvious to anyone why a bunch of dehydrated kids who’d been denied water wanted to break shit. And it wasn’t because Fred Durst told them to “break stuff,” no matter how big a douche Fred Durst may be (I understand that talking heads shitting on Fred Durst makes for delightful doc content, but blaming him for a riot that happened a full day and half later ignores a lot of basic cause-and-effect). To its credit, Clusterf**k seems to blame the music a lot less than the HBO version.

What other recourse did those kids have after being sold a false bill of goods, gouged, and then exploited for content? Property damage was just the most obvious way to even the score. The organizers had commodified the “Woodstock” brand, and in revenge the festival goers succeeded in sullying it forever. It’s cathartic to watch, another reason these docs are so watchable.

Of course, the leadership of the time, even 23 years later, seem utterly oblivious to all this (if not prevented from acknowledging it for legal reasons). The fascinating aspect of Woodstock ’99 is less the fires and the riots and the sexual assaults themselves (which, it should be noted, Woodstock ’69 also had lots of) than watching those same organizers continue to deny the basic material conditions that created the disaster. In that way they seem to eerily mirror our current political leadership.

In one unforgettable scene, a veteran of Woodstock ’69 drives around the trash-strewn grounds of Woodstock ’99 (the trash hauling contractors nowhere to be found), trying to hand out garbage bags in the vain hopes of getting the festival goers to clean up after themselves. If her generation could clean up their own trash (citation needed), why couldn’t these kids? When her audience, by and large, look at her like she’s insane, it doesn’t seem to inspire much self-reflection. No acknowledgment that cleaning up food and trash you’ve been allowed to bring in to sustain yourself at a free concert is fundamentally different than being asked to pick up the remains of $4 water ($7.11 water in 2022 dollars) you’ve been forced to buy by a venue that can’t maintain trash, food, or sewage after you paid them $150 to get in. And also, by the way, owns the rights to the images of you passed out naked in the mud in perpetuity.

Even 20 years later, being interviewed in the present, Woodstock 99’s organizers still seem incapable or unwilling to learn basic lessons. Asked to explain why the kids tore down their peace wall and looted their vendor village, they say, seemingly without any sense of irony, things like “I guess they just didn’t have that same spirit.”

Over and over, when presented with material conditions and institutional failure, they blame culture. Organizer John Scher (portrayed once again as one of the main villains of the story) says of the festival attendees, “I think they were entitled and fearful of growing up.”

Michael Lang, Scher’s long-haired flower child partner adds, “I don’t think they were able to embrace the social issues in the same way.”

If the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting the same results, what does it mean to expect people to act just like you did while treating them completely differently? These people will exploit your youth and then call you childish if you object.

It wouldn’t feel so relevant if the people who ran Woodstock ’99 didn’t seem so cut from the same Kente cloth as the people currently running the country. Lang died from non-Hodgkins lymphoma three months after shooting his interview. John Scher (whose name is conveniently scrubbed from the Woodstock ’99 Wikipedia page, and Wikipedia in general, which must’ve cost a pretty penny — and didn’t work that well considering most of his other search results are news articles about him blaming women for their own sexual assault) is still alive (he’s about 71, based on this Billboard article) and still working. Both are younger than both Joe Biden (79) and Nancy Pelosi (82), not to mention half the congressional leadership.

It’s not to say that everyone from the same generation is exactly the same (which by implication would make me responsible for the popularity of Limp Bizkit, a band that once released an album called “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water”), but it is hard not to see echoes of that confused hippie lady desperately trying to hand out trash bags in every dire-sounding fundraising email from the DNC. “Won’t you please help us clean up this mess we created?? All we need is a bit more of your money!”

It’s hard not to see a little of Joe Biden in the footage of John Scher and Michael Lang’s increasingly out-of-touch press conferences, insisting that everything is okay, and even if it isn’t it definitely isn’t their fault. The Chapo Trap House boys once described Joe Biden as “the guy who tells you the ice cream machine is broken” and I haven’t been able to think of him any other way ever since. John Scher and Michael Lang were early harbingers of this, the guys who smile and say the shitters are full but they’re working real hard on it. What was Bill Clinton’s famous catchphrase? “I feel your pain.”

These are all people who have clearly sold out their peace and love and flower power values for a comfortable position in society long ago, but if you point out their hypocrisy in any of this or their basic incompetence in any way, it’s because you’re too selfish or irresponsible. The youths are too entitled! They can’t even appreciate being charged for things we got for free!

(Video) Limp Bizkit Woodstock 99 Fred Durst Interpreters Behavior Of The Crowd

It’s not so much their hypocrisy or their incompetence that rankles; my own generation is clearly capable of same, as the aforementioned Fyre Fest example could attest. It’s the refusal to relinquish the cultural conversation, the refusal to stop insisting. Nancy Pelosi is in her eighties and has tens, or hundreds of millions of dollars to her name, depending on who you ask. Dianne Feinstein, widely whispered to be suffering from dementia, is almost 90 and even richer. Joe Manchin, the Democrats’ bete noire, is 74 and also a millionaire. Donald Trump looks like this now.

Nothing against older folks, I hope to become one myself some day. But the majority of the political leadership on both sides is well past the age when we would start to consider them incompetent for other jobs. They could just ride off into the sunset for comfortable retirements, on dopily named yachts eating fancy ice creams from custom fridges, and everyone would be happy for them. And yet they don’t. It seems that they can’t manage the one act even Limp Bizkit was ultimately capable of: leaving the stage.

‘Clusterf**k: Woodstock ’99’ premieres August 3, 2022 on Netflix. Vince Mancini is on Twitter. You can access his archive of reviews here.

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Was Limp Bizkit blamed for Woodstock 99? ›

As the new three-part film shows, tensions in the huge 400,000-plus crowd led to riots, arson, multiple cases of sexual assault and even three (accidental) deaths. For over 20 years, blame for the Woodstock '99 disaster has been laid at the door of Limp Bizkit, most notably by the festival's organiser John Scher.

Why wasnt Fred Durst on the Woodstock documentary? ›

A number of sexual assaults also reportedly took place in the mosh pit. Fred Durst didn't take part in the documentary. His absence was significant due to the fact that Fatboy Slim, Korn's Jonathan Davis and Gavin Rossdale each gave interviews about their performances.

Is Woodstock 99 on Netflix? ›

In August of this year, Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 premiered on Netflix.

Who played after Limp Bizkit Woodstock 99? ›

Limp Bizkit. Rage Against the Machine. Metallica! This was the absolutely crushing Saturday night lineup of Woodstock '99, one of the most infamous nights in rock history.

Who is at fault for Woodstock 99? ›

John Schur and the organizers of Woodstock '99 have not accepted any responsibility for the failures of the festival and over the years, have placed the blame on Limp Bizkit and the crowd in attendance.

Did Woodstock 99 promoters get sued? ›

Several lawsuits by concert-goers against the promoters for dehydration and distress were announced. In October 2000, a woman sued Oneida County and Michael Lang for personal injury over sexual assault at the festival.

What did Rage Against the Machine say about Woodstock 99? ›

Woodstock '99 was the 'low point of nu metal'

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello spoke about Woodstock '99 during a 2000 interview with Addicted To Noise, as reported by Rolling Stone. “I think the sexual assaults that occurred were horrific and inexcusable,” he said.

Did Woodstock 99 make any profit? ›

With more than 400,000 attendees, that is well over $60 million that the festival raked in with ticket sales alone. This content is imported from poll. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

What was the line up for Woodstock 99? ›

Limp Bizkit, Fatboy Slim, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jewel all feature heavily. There were two major stages at Woodstock '99, with the West Stage having smaller artists besides a few notable names like Ice Cube, Los Lobos and The Chemical Brothers.

Why did Netflix remove Woodstock 99? ›

Netflix's Trainwreck: Woodstock 99 is being called out for seriously downplaying rape and sexual assault.

Has Woodstock 99 been taken off Netflix? ›

Recommended. Woodstock was scheduled to celebrate its 50-year anniversary in 2019, but it was cancelled due to relocations, permit issues, and artist cancellations. Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 is available to stream now on Netflix.

Is Woodstock still a thing 2022? ›

The City of Woodstock has announced the lineup for the 2022 Woodstock Summer Concert Series taking place in the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Amphitheater from May to September. On Saturday, May 14th, the 2022 Season of the Woodstock Summer Concert Series begins with Marshall Charloff & Purple Xperience.

Who was the best band at Woodstock 99? ›

As all the talking heads in Netflix's new docuseries Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 agree, Korn was the band that the majority of the 250,000-plus festivalgoers were most stoked to see on day one.

How much were Woodstock tickets 1999? ›

How much were tickets worth? Tickets were sold for about $150 plus service charges, per The Washington Post. With more than 400,000 attendees, that is well over $60 million that the festival raked in with ticket sales alone.

Who played the rave tent at Woodstock 99? ›

The 400,000-odd crowd had been amped up by Limp Bizkit and had started tearing down the walls and destroying other podiums across the site, and this feral energy was headed for the late night entertainment of the rave hangar.

How much damage did Woodstock 99 cause? ›

Tents and booths were destroyed, trailers were burned, concert lights and a speaker tower were toppled, and mobs looted supply tents. While there were no fatalities, there were 1,200 injuries, 44 arrests, and four alleged sexual assaults.

What band closed Woodstock 99? ›

Red Hot Chili Peppers closed the festival and an anti-violence campaigners handed out candles to be lit during the epic Under The Bridge.

How many people were there at Woodstock 99? ›

An estimated 400,000 people were in attendance and roughly 250,000 people were there on the infamous Saturday night when "hundreds of state troopers in riot gear moved in to protect other vendors' booths" as the scene unraveled into pure destruction," according to AP.

Why did Rage Against the Machine burn the American flag? ›

Apparently, Rage members felt "critical distress", and so it happened that just before the band's first song - "Bulls On Parade" two upside-down US flags were hung on the amplifiers that were placed on stage, in protest against NBC and the fact that Forbes hosted the show the same day they performed.

What night did Rage Against the Machine play at Woodstock 99? ›

There weren't a ton of musical highlights at Woodstock '99, but Rage delivered an amazing set on July 24th, 1999. They wrapped it up by burning an American flag while performing “Killing in the Name.” It wasn't the last fire of the weekend.

How much did Woodstock performers get paid? ›

Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane got $7,500 each. Sly and the Family Stone got $7,000 and The Who got $6,250. Folk icon Arlo Guthrie and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young earned $5,000 each. Interestingly enough, three of Woodstock's most fondly remembered performances were by some of the festival's lowest paid acts.

How much did Woodstock 99 pay artists? ›

$157 and $180: Presale and gate ticket prices. $3,000: Amount raised by the Rome Little League for recycling bottles and cans from the festival. $22,000: Amount of money taken from ATMs on site. $73,000: Money 11 nonprofits made working at food booths.

Did the Woodstock promoters make money? ›

It took a decade for the Woodstock organizers to turn a profit. All told, Roberts, Rosenman, Lang and Kornfeld spent nearly $3.1 million ($15 million in today's money) on Woodstock—and took in just $1.8 million.

How many stages did Woodstock have? ›

There were two stages at Woodstock: The main stage where all the performances took place and a much smaller free stage for alternative performances (not only music).

How many years did Woodstock happen? ›

Years active1969
Founded byArtie Kornfeld Michael Lang John P. Roberts Joel Rosenman Woodstock Ventures
Attendance400,000 (estimate)
5 more rows

How many times did Woodstock happen? ›

There were three Woodstock festivals in total: 1969, 1994 and and 1999. The first is the version of Woodstock most are familiar with, which was billed as 'An Aquarian Experience: 3 Days of Peace and Music'.

Where can I watch the Woodstock 99 documentary? ›

Music Box: Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage | Watch the Movie on HBO |

When did Woodstock 99 come out on Netflix? ›

The release date

Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 premieres Aug. 3.

Is Woodstock available on Netflix? ›

Available to stream on Netflix starting Wednesday, Aug. 3.

How many Woodstock 99 documentaries are there? ›

So kids at Woodstock '99 were nostalgic for the mid-late '70s, with Dazed and Confused being popular. But Woodstock '99 tried to push a nostalgia for the last '60s, and the ideals of counterculture and free love." It is the first film of the six-part documentary series Music Box.


1. Ep #736: Who Was to Blame for Woodstock ‘99??
(Jeff Whitcher Vinyl Destination)
2. Woodstock 99: Why The Festival Was Such a Trainwreck & Was It Limp Bizkit's Fault!
(Rock N' Roll True Stories)
3. The Untold Story of Woodstock 99
4. Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 (2022) - Netflix Documentary Review
(The Railest Reviews)
5. What has Limp Bizkit said about Woodstock 99 performance?
(New Top Stories)
6. Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 REVIEW - Modern Escapism
(Modern Escapism)

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