Don’t know how many times I watched the original documentary of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. This was back in the late eighties, I was a late teen, wannabe musician. That film documented a unique, historic moment of music and counterculture combined. It was around the Second Summer of Love – Channel Four (who else) broadcast it. We recorded it on VHS and back-and-forth we’d spool to watch and rewatch Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Joe Cocker, Richie Haven, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, etc, etc, oh my. Secondary clips of the festival-goers intercut the acts: peace, love, anti-war. The events it portrayed are still deep and large in my personal pantheon.
I’ve just watched this Netflix miniseries, about the 1999 Woodstock reincarnation. Run by Michael Lang – the very same guy that set up the ’69 original – this edition “hosted” 250,000 people, mostly kids, in a superficially-modified, abandoned military airbase. Headlined by the biggest bands of the time – heavy on Nu-Metal, and Alt-Rock. The venue: a flat, exposed tarmac, extreme heat, miserable facilities, and massively understaffed: many under- or untrained.
There are some great clips – Korn, Limp Bizkit, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Fatboy Slim all highlight – but it’s mostly about how a juggernaut fuelled by greed and hubris inexorably rumbled onto its horrendous conclusion. It’s a story of personal and collective responsibility gone wrong.
I won’t be spooling back-and-forth to watch and rewatch the music, but I do recommend it, very highly. 3x 45 min episodes.