Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99, the newest true-crime series on Netflix, investigates how exactly the third Woodstock film came to be such a failure.
Although notable rock acts like Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, and Limp Bizkit performed at the festival, it descended into utter chaos.
Woodstock ’99 did more than meet expectations; it utterly shattered them with violence, sexual assault, fire, dehydration, and more.
What happened in Woodstock ’99?
A quarter of a million people visited the Woodstock music festival from July 23 to 25, 1999. Like the legendary 1969 original, the weekend was slated to be a millennium-defining celebration of peace, love, and music. Woodstock ’99 ultimately proved to be a far cry from flower-power, though.
The former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, upstate New York, hosted the festival. Between 1942 and 1995, the air base was in use. During World War II, it was frequently used as a base for repairing, modifying, and maintaining aircraft.
After dangerous chemicals were discovered in the soil and water as a result of base operations in Griffiss in 1984, the area was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List.
Just four years before Woodstock would later call it home, the base closed in 1995. About 100 miles separated the new location from the festival’s original location. Before Woodstock ’99, Michael Lang, the festival’s co-creator, told the New York Daily News that he “loved the idea” of holding the event at Griffiss.
The 3,552-acre location itself was one of the major issues that came to light over the weekend, among other issues. The festival was held in the worst possible location for a music festival because it was on a former air base with an asphalt ground and concrete structures.
A large runway also cut through the festival grounds, and there were enormous airplane hangers that were no longer in use. The two main stages were also two miles apart because of the size of the venue. Attendees of the festival camped on the tarmac and there was little to no shade.
One of the main reasons Griffiss was selected, as heard in Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99, was to prevent gate-crashing, which had happened in 1969 and 1994. Due to the location’s history as an air base, a 12-foot plywood and steel fence was already in place, which should deter attempts to enter without paying.
But the wall also kept people from fleeing to safety when chaos broke out. The gate, which was advertised as a “peace wall,” had 500 New York police officers guarding it for added security.
The base assets at Griffiss were unharmed during the chaos of Woodstock ’99, which included a sweltering heat wave, violence, sexual assault, looting, vandalism, and arson.
Even as the tarmac on the ground heated up to an uncomfortable degree, there was also very little access to water. Additionally, the location was outrageously overpriced and crowded.
The airfield is now Griffiss International Airport, which Oneida County owns. The airport’s Rome Research Site and Griffiss Business and Technology Park are located there.
Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 is available to watch right now on Netflix.