Thursday, August 22, 2019

We Watched The Woodstock '99 PPV: Day 3 (07.25.99)

Woodstock '99 PPV:

| DAY 1 | | DAY 2 | | DAY 3 |

Al Green was scheduled to perform on Sunday morning, but backed out late Saturday afternoon citing JFK, Jr's July 16th death as the cause of his decision. We're guessing he was scheduled to open the West Stage.

Foo Fighters also backed out weeks prior due to the mixing schedule of There Is Nothing Left to Lose. It's possible the show intended for them to play between Creed and Red Hot Chili Peppers, although no existing records note their prospective day, stage, or timeslot.

Without those cancellations, the candles intended for the Hendrix-tribute finale would have been handed to the audience well after midnight. By that time, the few thousand attendees who chose to riot, loot, and ignite uncontrollable bonfires might have been a lot more exhausted and worn out. The whole thing might have ended very differently, but who can really say?

An interesting fact discovered in the Break Stuff podcast: Despite claims from Michael Lang or anyone else clinging to the Woodstock myth, a series of riots and fires also plagued the original Woodstock in 1969. In one memorable scene of the popular 1970 documentary, Wavy Gravy's on-stage Sunday morning speech about "breakfast in bed for 400 thousand" is attached with the announcement that "Some hamburger guy [had] his stand burned down last night." According to Break Stuff, that food stand was actually 12 food stands, and all of them were set ablaze by an anarchist group called The Up Against The Wall Motherfuckers accusing the food vendors of "crimes against the people" charging 35 cents for hotdogs. (For the record, most vendors at Woodstock '69 sold food at cost value, but apparently that wasn't good enough for the dumbass anarchists.)

Girls Gone Woodstock

By summer 1999, none of us could have foreseen the impactful permanence of YouTube preservation. But most of it's still all there in plain sight. Hundreds of women might never know that YouTube has been hosting 20-year-old topless videos of them, currently still viewed by the tens of thousands.

Throughout Day One, the nudity shots did not seem as gratuitous or excessive. A large fraction of the naked crowd recieved a unique sense of empowerment after liberating themselves. Big natural cans (and yes, shlongs) were impossible to avoid. Everywhere you turn, people just started whippin' off the towel. The PPV show was bound to include reasonably unintentional nudity at some point.

The crowd shots of Day Three feel a lot more invasive. After watching this pay-per-view special for 62 hours, we're convinced the producers collectively agreed on a change in direction, heavily shifting focus on tasteless crowd shots resembling the Girls Gone Wild DVD and VHS series, placing frequent deliberate emphasis on privacy violation. Based on the generally loose nature of the festival organization, we're certain the festival attendees never signed a release, never heard any statement, never agreed to display their naked likeness on national TV, let alone on YouTube. The show producers are equally as scummy and shitty as the bros and bullies who tore shirts from girls' backs.

In the Break Stuff podcast, promoter John Scher does everything he can to absolve himself from providing inadequate security staff: "I am critical of the hundreds of women that were walking around with no clothes on and expecting not to be touched. [60-70%] men, average age of early 20s? The hell did they think was gonna happen if they were gonna walk around naked? That's somewhat chauvinist, and not politically correct, and I condemn it, but [for] every action in this world, there's an equal and opposite reaction, and that's just the laws of science. I hope everyone who got caught got put in jail, but it wasn't what the press made it out to be."

Scher can thank the scumminess of the PPV producers for debunking his incredibly stupid theory. Many girls in attendance did not become shirtless by choice. The cameras catch crowdsurfers and girls who wanted a temporary seat on some dude's shoulders greeted by the hands of strangers tearing at their clothes, including one clearly visible instance during Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sadly, this behavior was common throughout many arena-sized rock shows and festivals of the post Lollapalooza era -- not exclusive to Woodstock '99.

A few weeks later, Ad Rock addressed the sexual assaults to an audience of 8 million during Beastie Boys' VMAs acceptance speech for "Intergalactic." For more info on that, here's our coverage of the 1999 VMAs.

#1 The Death Count (R.I.P.)

Three of the 450,000 audience members died by the end of the festival -- the same death toll as Woodstock '69. The Ringer's 8-part Break Stuff: The Story of Woodstock '99 podcast details the heartbreaking story of rock-enthusiast and non-drug-user David G. Derosia, a 19-year-old who was sent into a coma after overheating midway through Metallica's set and died at a Syracuse hospital on July 25, 1999. He was the 2nd of 3 people to die at the festival; on the first day, a 44-year-old with a pre-existing heart condition entered cardiac arrest; another woman returning from the weekend was struck while walking along the road after experiencing car trouble.

As far as those who appear in the PPV, we were unable to find anyone from Day Three's East or West Stage bands who passed away since Woodstock '99, although John Entwistle from The Who played an unaired solo set on the AMP3.Com Emerging Artist stage.

#2 Highlights

2.1 "Me & My Friends"

Flea's return to full frontal nudity and his bonkers stage presence were already enough to award him "Grand Champion Of Day Three." But his anti-creep speech removed any doubts, although his words would have been a lot more helpful a day or two earlier. They were only the 2nd band since Offspring (on Day One) to speak up:

"Hey you know, just because a girl out there wants to feel free and take her shirt off doesn't mean a bunch of you have to go grab her tits n stuff. Because they're her tits -- they're not yours. You gotta leave those tits alone. Those tits are a girl's private property, and they're a beautiful thing, so you gotta respect 'em. Everyone should be kind to one another out there."

Yeah Flea! Not sure how, but his speech somehow also intensifies the dopeness of "Me & My Friends" a moment later -- the final song before their encore break.

[Some bonus Flea stage banter cut from the YouTube edit between "Give It Away" and "Scar Tissue": "Hey, if you have -- at home, or in a car, or under your bed, or in your pocket -- if you have a gun, be sure to throw it away! Throw it in the garbage! Just get the fuck rid of it! You don't need that shit!"]

25 minutes prior, some of the first bonfire shots in the PPV slowly fade in and out as RHCP play "Californication." Released to radio in May 2000, the song was not yet among the era's ubiquitous rock staples. Thus, the crowd does not lose their shit during the intro hook, and its mellow nature makes the bonfire shots seem a lot more peaceful and celebratory than harmful.

"Me & My Friends" precedes an encore break when John Scher addresses the fires. On stage, they appeared on the horizon dim and tiny; to those at home, they're extremely visible and huge. Anthony Kiedis' unconcerned reaction reflects the crowd's perceived distance from danger: "Make wayyy for the firetrucks!!"

The encore begins. Some kid jumps on stage, dancing along and singing every word mid-way through an outstanding 8-minute "Sir Psycho Sexy." Flea briefly joins their fan until he's tackled by security.

Throughout the day, it seemed less probable that the planned all-star Hendrix tribute finale would materialize. Minutes before the RHCP set, Jimi Hendrix's sister personally asked them to close with one of his songs. After "Sir Psycho Sexy," Flea excitedly asks "Youwannadoit youwannadoit???," and Kiedis yells back "Fuck yea!" just before launching into their first performance of "Fire" since December 1991. The PPV producers appropriately respond with even more gratuitous bonfire shots, visibly growing in size as the show progresses. According to whoever edits, the sound tower had caught fire by this point.

2.2 Peace Sells...but Who's Buying?

The final song performed at Woodstock '99 was not "Fire."

With another 45 minutes to go by the time Chili Peppers finished their brief Hendrix-tribute, Megadeth closed with the even more appropriately prophetic "Peace Sells." It's strange that literally all of the press about Woodstock '99 consistently get this fact wrong, including the Break Stuff podcast and every 20-year retrospective blog post that we've seen over the past month. On both the PPV and YouTube, "Peace Sells" includes an eerily slow crossfade of Dave Mustaine layered under a wide shot of four huge bonfires in the distance.

We were unaware that Megadeth had a Load - an attempt at an atmospheric update that ultimately alienated the thrash-thirsting core of their fanbase. The headbangers at Woodstock still live and die for their metal, and they're not especially responsive to Mustaine's crowdwork attempts during "Crush Em," the recent single released to radio three weeks prior (and debuted live by Megadeth at the request of Goldberg on the July 5, 1999 episode of WCW Nitro). Released in mid-August, the album Rise is considered their weakest to date. Otherwise, Mustaine and Marty Friedman trade perfect solos on all the heavy classics: "Holy Wars," "In My Darkest Hour," "Sweating Bullets," "Symphony of Destruction."

Another fun coincidence: Megadeth and RHCP both included popular non-album-jams from 1993 movie soundtracks as the 5th songs in their respective setlists: "Angry Again" from Last Action Hero and "Soul To Squeeze" from Coneheads. (JFC we are nerdy as fuck.) [Unrelated to the PPV or Woodstock, here's wishing Dave Mustaine a speedy full recovery from throat cancer.]

2.3 Best Wake and Bake: Willie Nelson

By 1999, Willie's band remarkably still had many of the same musicians as on 1978's Willie And Family Live double-LP, plus he was still opening his shows with almost the exact same order: "Whiskey River" –> "Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)" –> "Funny How Time Slips Away" –> "Crazy" –> "Night Life." (He threw in Waylon's "Good Hearted Woman" special for Woodstock.) The crowd was thin and asleep during "Whiskey River," but had grown to 200,000 by the time they got to "Mountain Dew" and "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It." With so many hot jams, it's hard to keep up.

2.4 Best Song: Elvis Costello

It was a tough call, but we ultimately had to award Day Three's "Best Song" to Elvis Costello's "Alison," because it fucking rules. Cut from the YouTube edit: Before "Alison," he asks the crowd to boo British Airways for losing all of his guitars. BOO! Elvis also receives "Special Achievement in Breaking The 4th Wall" for congratulating the intruding camera guy on a hard day of work, but "just fuck off for a minute and let me sing!"

On the PPV, everyone seems pretty engaged, attentive, and appreciative, although Rob Sheffield (on the Break Stuff podcast) recalls boredom and restlessness. Either way, Elvis manages to engage 200,000+ into a singalong of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding," supplying the show's boomer organizers and the older fraction of the crowd with a hopeful (but ultimately temporary) utopian antidote. Somewhere between Willie, Brian Setzer, Everlast's funky 420 vibes, and Elvis Costello's solo-with-piano, the show seemed to set up a neutralizer briefly cleansing the path of chaos (allegedly) set in place the night before.

2.5 Best Crowd Work: Sevendust

"SEVENDUST HAS ARRIVED! SAY IT! SEVENDUST HAS ARRIVED! Are you ready for this Woodstock??? Where my people in the pit???"

Mid-way through a few weeks on Warped Tour, Sevendust sound tight as fuck, humbled and stoked on the opportunity, and kicking serious ass at Woodstock. Any random spoken moment from this set is a contender for "Best Crowd Work Moment."

"How many of you people at Woodstock like to get high?? How many of you like to get high on bud and grass?? How many of you like to take acid?? How many of you like to do mushrooms??? Now I'm not condoning doing drugs -- I just like everyone to know that I do participate y'all. Do you know what this is right here??? How about me comin' out there and gettin' high with y'all? I said how about me coming out there and gettin high?? You wanna get high with me???"

2.6 Most Underrated Drummer: Our Lady Peace

We forgot how good Jeremy Taggert's drumming sounds in songs like "One Man Army" and "Clumsy." Many huge nostalgia bombs in OLP's set.

2.7 Best Vocal Performance: Jewel

At some point on Sunday morning, a few folks smuggled lots of posterboard and markers into the festival grounds. Sunday's East Stage crowd thusly displays the highest number of attitude-era signs -- and especially during Jewel. "JEWEL RULES," "YODEL FOR ME JEWEL," "MARRY ME JEWEL," etc.

The weekend's most unapologetically feminine musician and an honorably gifted yodeller, Jewel floats through her set, stoked as hell and dropping some refreshing ASMR to a largely appreciative crowd. Poptimist revisionism may have unfairly blocked Jewel's odds of placement in the canon of '90s pop vocalists, but she deserved better. Perhaps blame the post-Aguilera emphasis on soulless vocal gymnastics. ("Genie In A Bottle" debuted on TRL 18 days prior.)

One more note: We might be wrong about this, but we're pretty sure Sevendust's rhythm section can be heard across the airforce base throughout the most spacious moments of "Foolish Games."

#3 Other Notes

3.1 WTF Moments

With all due respect to Buckcherry, the funniest hour of Woodstock '99 belongs to Creed who brought some outstanding non-self-aware lolz. We feel bad awarding Stapp with "Best Rolex," but he displays a very impressively fancy watch for Woodstock.

Creed did not issue "Higher" to radio until August 24, and it does not appear here. The only songs teased from the not-yet-released Human Clay are a pair of unfunny and boring album tracks we're now hearing for the first time. They do not play "With Arms Wide Open." The four songs we recognize are "Torn," "My Own Prison," "One," and "What's This Life For." These jams are all very funny and dumb, but they're weirdly half-unironically enjoyable.

While Stapp is at the top of his lolz game, it gets even crazier after they're joined by The Doors' Robby Krieger, who would have been a reasonably appropriate cameo in any other context. Who could have predicted his glorious Undertaker shirt? Stapp gets funky with the crowd-work for "Well I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer" -- forcing the crowd to repeat this part 2 or 3 times more than necessary. He then flexes his upper-octave mean-vox for the "GOTTA LOVE YUR MAN" part of "Riders On The Storm." And finally, Robby Krieger stays on stage for "What's This Life For," complete with a dramatic pause at its apex: "I just have one thing left to say... WE AINT HERE ANYMOORRRE." Right at that moment, it looks as though he came inches away from getting clunked in the head with a bottle. But they made it through unscathed. Great work Creed!

The 2nd funniest band of Day Three is Collective Soul. "Where The River Flows," "Gel," "Heavy." We nearly forgot how funny, terrible, and (albeit) memorable these once-ubiquitous riffs sounded. With the exception of their worst song ("The World I Know"), all the hits are here along with a really embarrassing cover of "Crazy Train" and a bland cover of U2's "I Will Follow." They all look very douchey and have really bad '90s Bon Jovi hairstyles. The most unexpectedly enjoyable moments from Collective Soul happen during "Heavy" (and at least one other song) when one of their guitar players inserts a couple dissonant, Nirvana-influenced solos. So at least that was cool.

3.2 Future Hits

Godsmack's "Voodoo" and Chili Peppers' "Otherside" are both notably absent. "Voodoo" later peaked at #5 and became Batista's entrance music until 2002. "Otherside" held down #1 on Billboard Alternative for 11 weeks between February and May 2000 and became one of modern rock radio's most overplayed songs.

Megadeth "Crush 'Em"
Performed live on the July 5, 1999 episode of WCW Nitro, peaked #5 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock on August 30th.

Sevendust "Denial"
Released to radio in mid-July, peaked #14 on Billboard Mainstream Rock on October 30th.

Our Lady Peace "One Man Army"
After making its world debut at Woodstock '99, the live performance leaked to Canadian stations, forcing Our Lady Peace to move its radio release up to July 30th. Peaked on Billboard Mainstream Rock at #16 on October 30th.

Jewel "Jupiter (Swallow the Moon)"
A re-recorded "radio" version of this song debuted on the August 1st episode of MTV's Making The Video. It peaked on Billboard Adult Alternative at #39.

Red Hot Chili Peppers "Around The World"
Many unprovoked rock DJs sporadically spun "Around The World" as early as June 8th - the day Californication dropped. It was not officially issued to radio until early September, with its video debuting on the October 4th episode of MTV's Making The Video. Peaked on Billboard Alternative at #7 on November 20th.

Our Lady Peace "Is Anybody Home?"
Debuted at Woodstock '99, issued to radio on January 10, 2000, peaked #20 on Billboard Modern Rock.

Godsmack "Bad Religion"
Issued to radio in February 2000 and peaking at #8 on Mainstream Rock. "Bad Religion" was one of the 162 songs included in Clear Channel's temporary "banned" list following September 11th, 2001.

Red Hot Chili Peppers "Californication"
Issued to radio in May 2000, "Californication" peaked at #1 for one week on Billboard Alternative, temporarily breaking the 7-week dominance of Papa Roach's "Last Resort."

3.3 The AMP3.Com Emerging Artists Stage (and other unseen events)

The PPV shows almost no footage of the AMP3.Com Stage, excluding all of the "Emerging Artists" sets and the rave sets. It also excludes everything from the Thursday pre-Woodstock party. Here's some notables:

Thursday 7.22 (Pre-Woodstock party):
- The String Cheese Incident and Strangefolk are two bands whose names we've seen frequently in the line-ups for Gathering Of The Vibes, a jam-band festival and narcotic-flea-market frequently held in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
- Vertical Horizon performed an extremely boring set. One year later, "Everything You Want" hit #1 on the Hot 100. Who knew?
- 3rd Bass performed an ok set eight years after "Pop Goes The Weasel" received spins on Yo! MTV Raps. For context, this would be the equivalent of Woodstock 50 booking the rapper who did that song "Like A G6."

- Spitfire performed Woodstock 99 three times -- opening the West Stage on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 11AM. It seems like they weren't really a band, but more of a political performance art collective combining EDM and spoken word. The group featured Perry Ferrell and Michael Franti as the core members. (Podcast 99 claims that clothing designer Kenneth Cole was also one of the core members, but we can't find evidence of this through quick Google searches.) None of their performances were recorded or filmed. Perry Ferrell also headlined one night of the 6th Element rave, but he still never appeared on the PPV despite performing at least four times.

Friday 7.23 (Emerging Artist Stage and The 6th Element):
- Bijou Phillips was in Bully, a Larry Clarke film that we dug throughout college. In the first half of 1999, she had a video on 120 Minutes and was twice prominently featured in SPIN -- once in an artist profile, and again when they gave her album a score of 1 out of 10.
- Ben Lee from Noise Addict is cool. We got him confused with Ben Kweller from Radish. Both were in The Bens with Ben Folds, the guy from Ben Folds Five and William Shatner. We're guessing Ben Lee's Woodstock set included WLIR hit "Nothing Much Happens" which is not only a hot jam but also a gigantic nostalgia bomb. It was on one of our 2 or 3 most overplayed car mixtapes from summer '99, and definitely segued into "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" from fellow Aussies Silverchair.
- Moby is someone who we used to really dig, and we still have good nostalgia connected to many of his '90s jams, although we're pretty sure we haven't actively enjoyed a single song he's released since Play. We saw him play twice that summer and haven't seen him live since then.

Saturday 7.24 (Emerging Artist Stage and The 6th Element):
- Gargantua Soul is from Connecticut and probably received occasional spins on WCCC and Radio 104. Before we joined our college band, they played occasional shows with G-Soul. Frequent Toads Place headliners. Nu-metal from New Haven. All that fun stuff.
- 3 is a band name that we also recognize from Woodstock '94's emerging artist line-up.
- Full Devil Jacket actually ended up achieving some national spins -- charting twice on Billboard Modern Rock airplay throughout 2000. By the end of that year, one of the band members overdosed while on tour sadly killing their momentum.
- Old Pike joined Counting Crows on stage for "Hanginaround," but otherwise we don't know who they are.
- Strangefolk played again, wtf.
- We've seen 2 Skinnee J's twice. Their stage banter was frequently political, although the subject matter of the songs did not seem reflective of this. They were not quite as embarrassing as MC Paul Barman, but close enough.
- We would really have to think hard to determine whether we still dig any Fatboy Slim music. Probably not.

Sunday 7.25 (Emerging Artist Stage and The 6th Element):
- Supersuckers joined Willie Nelson on stage for "Amazing Grace," but we don't know who they are.
- Muse played a short set of songs from their first album which we have never heard. In 2001, they had a sick album called Origin Of Symmetry. In 2003, they had a dope single called "Hysteria." Most of what they did after that sucked.
- John Oszajca's minor 120 Minutes hit "Back In 1999" was featured prominently on the Mystery Men soundtrack. We remember the video featuring random people lip syncing the song's lyrics. The video also inspired us to consider a lip-sync-on-the-street parody set to a brutal Cannibal Corpse song, although the idea never materialized.
- John Entwistle played an unaired solo set that included "My Wife" and six other songs. A decently well-produced low-bitrate video of "Young Man Blues" is on Youtube. The production value looks pretty decent, providing some hope that other "Emerging Artist Stage" videos exists.
- Someone from the band Reveille was interviewed on Podcast 99, but we haven't heard that episode yet.
- The ravers who continued partying indoors from Sunday night into Monday morning mostly remained unaware of the insane riots and fires blazing outdoors. We're not sure which DJs were spinning throughout this part of the fest. It's possible that Sunday was Perry Ferrell's night to headline the rave.

3.4 Miscellaneous

All the bands who play around sunset have such beautiful natural stage lighting. For better or worse, this includes Limp Bizkit, Creed, and Godsmack.

Similar to Day Two, Day Three begins with riffs from Kennedy and another 30 minute countdown. After a few minutes, we realize that she is attempting to lure viewers. This portion of the show is possibly unscrambled on PPV channels, and she is encouraging people to call in and order Day Three before the countdown reaches zero. This was unclear throughout the 30 minute countdown at the start of Day Two.

In addition to the surge of camera operator scumminess, Day Three has the most ads for Columbia House, the most random artist interviews, and the most interruptions overall.

Day Three had the most stuff that we strongly dislike:
- We probably hated Rusted Root the most, who teased "All Along The Watchtower" and "Taking Care Of Business."
- The Brian Setzer Orchestra were introduced by a girl who was probably in the movie Swingers or something and introduced them as her favorite band OF ALL TIME. Not kidding.
- Godsmack were equally as bad as Creed except not funny, so what's the point? They also extended almost all of their songs past the 7 minute mark for some reason. "Keep Away" and "Whatever" were their two hits at the time; both are entirely nondescript.
- We used to like some Social Distortion songs, so we gave Mike Ness a shot. But it's pretty bad. He does the boring "Don't Think Twice" cover from his 1999 solo album and the Social Distortion version of "Ring Of Fire." When it comes time for "Ball and Chain," he asks "Who here would like to hear a Social Distortion song?" The crowd cheers, and they respond with a slowed down '60s country-ballad arrangement. Seriously dude, fuck you lol.

Everlast's set was fine. They do a Marvin Gaye cover. "Ends" is a jam; it's his best song, and the highlight of the set. With 20 years of hindsight, "What It's Like" still sounds overrated and Sublime-derivative. They play a non-hiphop arrangement of "Jump Around," but at least it wasn't a miserable ballad-arrangement (like Mike Ness's Woodstock version of "Ball and Chain"). The point of the band is that he assembled all white dudes to play funky music, which feels very in-character for 1999.

"...We don't need no water / Let the motherfucker burn..." Is this from something other than "Fire Water Burn?" In either case, many bros can be overheard loudly chanting this during Chili Peppers.

3.5 Conclusion

We're so happy that this is over. It was a lot of fun, but a lot more effort than we expected.

For help with context, we listened through two recently launched podcasts: The Ringer and Luminary's Break Stuff, and Culture Dumps' Podcast 99. Neither show is essential listening, but we're happy we checked them out. The two shows decently fill gaps left open by the other. Out of the two, we would recommend Break Stuff because it's faster to binge, and its production value makes it easier to digest.

The 8-part Break Stuff documentary series explores the "What Went Wrong?" angle exploited by literally every other Woodstock 99 thinkpiece that we read this past summer. Their series finale arrives this upcoming Tuesday. Afterwards, we plan to promptly unsubscribe from our 30-day trial of Luminary -- the worst podcast app we've ever used.

Podcast 99 is a hangout/discussion series celebrating the festival's music and many of its strangest moments -- a take rarely explored elsewhere. They dissect each set individually, accompanied by various trivia and (often) badly researched examinations of the artists' backstories. We will probably continue hate-listening to this series despite its lack of depth.

After hearing 15-20 episodes of Podcast 99, we've determined that the hosts enjoy the lore of the festival more than they enjoy music. The show could use a fact checker so that they can stop authoritatively stating easily Googleable mistruths as fact. The show could also use some additional insight from a source who consumed alternative rock throughout the entirety of 1999, since they only passively consume most of these bands. They had never heard "A Long December," nor could they ID which Alanis Morissette album featured the song "Ironic." This is basic entry-level '90s rock trivia. Stuff like this happens during every single episode. It annoys us that we know a lot more about this topic than them.

The most egregious take so far happened two weeks ago. They finally got around to discussing Rage - the best band of Woodstock 99 - ultimately concluding that they played a bad set without offering any valid explanation.

We know why these guys didn't like Rage's set: It's because they're posers who didn't recognize enough of the songs. We're certain they would have enjoyed it more if the setlist included "Testify," "Guerilla Radio," and "Sleep Now In The Fire."

Our source who was actually there confirms that Rage played the best set of Woodstock 99. Another source had a recent conversation with Rob Sheffield, who relayed solid confirmation that he was not a big fan of Rage Against The Machine UNTIL seeing them play at Woodstock 99. We also recall one of the DJs on K-Rock (we're guessing Cabbie) discussing his experience at the festival. "What was my favorite set?" He answered this question stating that he did not agree with Rage's politics but could not deny how hard they crushed it.

So despite the podcasting world's lack of insight, a little homework reveals that we were not alone in determining that Rage objectively played the best set of Woodstock 99.

We'll stop there because we could easily list 30 more reasons why Podcast 99 has pissed us off.

Thank you, and have a cool day.

[March 2022 addendum: When this series of posts was written a few years ago, we didn't anticipate so many people would find it through Google searches. What started as a labor of love is now the most popular thing we've posted in years.

With this in mind, we regret our negative take on Podcast 99. It's unfair to describe our experience as "hate-listening" -- at its best, the show is a pretty fun listen. We strongly recommend the Wyclef episode. It's also unfair to label the hosts as posers, since they are clearly passionate about the subject matter. And we haven't unfollowed their Instagram.]

Woodstock '99 PPV:

| DAY 1 | | DAY 2 | | DAY 3 |

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

MTVZ (August 2019)

Back to school is just around the corner. Where's MTVZ? Here it is.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

We Watched The Woodstock '99 PPV: Day 2 (07.24.99)

Woodstock '99 PPV:

| DAY 1 | | DAY 2 | | DAY 3 |

Check out that well-paced East Stage line-up:

Block 1, The party starters: Tragically Hip, Kid Rock, Wyclef
Block 2, The VH1-friendly frat party: Counting Crows, DMB, Alanis
Block 3, Time to tear this MF down: Limp Bizkit, Rage, Metallica

It looks very smart on paper. What could go wrong?

The Stage Mural Of Doom

Between 3:50:00 and 4:00:00, the PPV experiences one of its many lulls when not much is happening. The show kills time with random live shots of naked 20-somethings meditating and pre-recorded montages of retired town locals: "How are we gonna get to the golf course? They're gonna terrorize everything! It's gonna be a blood bath!" How's that for prophetic?

Contracted boomer sound guys supply the muffled set-break music. We had to Shazam this, but one of these idiots chose "Two Wrongs" from Joe Cocker's 1987 Unchain My Heart LP.

While awaiting Counting Crows around the 4-hour mark, the PA plays "Magical Mystery Tour." We initially thought this was yet another boring boomer sound guy selection. But then Counting Crows finally takes the stage right at the "climax" part (when the song slows down at the end). Did the band personally select this as their Woodstock 99 walk-on music? If so, they highlighted a point that horrified us quite deeply: The East Stage's clownish decor may have been intended as a football-field sized tribute to one of the scariest album covers of all time. The logo across the top of the stage looks identical to the font used on the cover of Magical Mystery Tour with similar stars and rainbow patterns filling up other areas.

We're interested in knowing what persons were responsible for choosing this as the theme of Woodstock 99's backdrop. This mural of doom confronted 400,000 sensory-immersed, dehydrated, malnourished, acid-dropping 20-somethings for three days and drove them all to the point of insanity. Considering this chilling context, the festival's aftermath feels even more disturbing. Who knows what Lord-Of-The-Flies / mass-suicide types of horrors might have ensued had the festival continued even longer?

#1 The Death Count (R.I.P.)

- Joe C was forced to leave Kid Rock's "Devil Without a Cause" tour by November '99 due to health concerns but was present for the rapid, meteoric ascent of "Bawitdaba" and their iconic Woodstock performance.
- Verne Troyer -- then known as Mini-Me -- introduced Limp Bizkit's set with "You wanted the worst? You GOT the worst!"
- The original '90s line-up of Dave Matthews Band performed the East Stage, including sax and woodwind player LeRoi Moore who passed away in 2008.
- The Tragically Hip opened the East Stage on Day Two. The band split up in 2017 after the death of their vocalist and lyricist Gord Downie.

#2 Highlights

2.1 "Killing In The Name"

Our crowning Day Two highlight goes to the flag draped over Tim Commerford's bass amp.

Rage allegedly agreed to a lower-than-normal stage volume after festival staff briefed them that all hell had just broken loose. They also obliged with less frequent banter than than almost any other Day Two artist from either stage (aside from Zack quickly dedicating "Freedom" to Leonard Peltier). No bullshit; just ass kicking, intensity heightening further with every song. The tension hits an apex with the final minute of their closer "Killing In The Name," culminating with the flag burning throughout the mantra in its coda: "Fuck You / I won't do what you tell me" hasn't sounded this exciting since 1993.

2.2 The Plastic Bottle Barrage

We had so much fun watching Kid Rock's set that we almost completely forgot how much we hate his terrible music. This easily wins for "Best Set / Worst Songs." His grand entrance was a 10 out of 10. The build in the intro of "Bawitdaba" was a 10. Joe C's "I'm Not A Fucking Midgit" t-shirt gets a 10. He dedicates "Balls In Your Mouth" to Howard Stern. He brings his platinum award for Devil Without A Cause on stage. His cover of "Fortunate Son" might be the weekend's most tasteful (albeit possibly unintentional) Woodstock '69 tribute. (Creedence initially released the song as a b-side a month after Woodstock. Barely missing the cut off.)

And finally, the grand finale: The plastic bottle barrage. A few recent Woodstock '99 retrospectives have attempted to call out this moment as problematic (assuming it resulted in crowd injuries), but it's honestly incredible. Joe C accurately yells "Holy shit!" into the mic as the stage quickly fills with a sea of plastic for over two minutes. The ground was already a trash heap -- might as well make something beautiful out of it.

2.3 James Hetfield's Best Look

Homie needs to bring back "the road warrior."

Metallica's set has bonus tracks (cut from the YouTube edit): Wasted and having the time of his life, Kid Rock staggers onto the drum riser before "Battery" and splits a Corona with Lars Ulrich.

2.4 Best Limp Bizkit Cameo

For some reason, Puff Daddy made it his business to be there for Limp Bizkit, taking a helicopter into Woodstock just for this one set and then peacing out right after they were done. In the biz, it's all about who you know, and Durst knew literally everyone.

2.5 Best Song: Counting Crows

We're not huge Counting Crows fans, but we are HUGE fans of "A Long December" -- still one of the greatest songs of all time and the hottest jam of Day Two. It looks like they lugged out the grand piano just for this one song. Completely worth it.

2.6 Best Non-Cover Attributions: Bruce Hornsby

Bruce Hornsby's set was not shown in full until about 3AM. It's not really all that notable, but we want to talk about it at length anyway because we think it's funny to talk about Bruce Hornsby for a long time.

John Scher -- Woodstock 99's co-organizer -- had made it a point to personally introduce Hornsby's shockingly half-dope set, sounding way better than it had any right to be. He does not perform with his '80s band Bruce Hornsby and The Range, so most of his AOR '80s hits are absent. No "Mandolin Rain," or "Every Little Kiss," or "The Valley Road." (We had to look up those song titles. "Mandolin Rain" is kind of a jam btw.)

They play a 12-minute version of his most well-known song, "The Way It Is," boldly introduced as a Tupac Shakur cover. They follow this with a bluegrass version of a song we hadn't heard in years: "Step by step / One by one / Higher and higher..." It's "Jacob's Labber," a song Huey Lewis not only covered but took to #1 in 1987. Hornsby's non-Range band is tight as fuck, despite the guitar player's wack faux-Anastasio tone. (Later on the same stage, Mickey Hart and Planet Drum's guitarist predictably achieves the exact same sound. Bummer.) The stage mix and sound-quality rest among the day's fullest, effectively outing Everclear who took the stage immediately afterwards and sounded like absolute shit.

In the uninterrupted re-airing, a panning camera catches a kid who is likely amid a very intense acid trip, hiding from the 100 degree heat with a white blanket. [See photo.]

#3 Other Notes

3.1 Most Compelling Disaster: Wyclef Jean

Considering the festival's aftermath, it's not especially strange that Wyclef's painfully awkward set hasn't placed on multiple "worst of all time" lists. He repeatedly emphasizes "This is Pay-Per-View" to the massive crowd, but appears entirely unrehearsed, shouting impulsive instructions to The Refugee All-Stars. The only preparedness we detect come from moments blatantly plagiarized from bands who had already played that weekend.

Stolen from James Brown and Kid Rock: The Refugee Allstars' lackluster solos kill time for the first 10 minutes before he takes center stage.

Stolen from 3rd Bass: Wyclef has his DJ play "Jump Around," likely unaware that both Everlast and DJ Lethal from House Of Pain separately performed later that weekend. (By the end of Woodstock 99, "Jump Around" was played at least three times.)

Stolen from Lit: After botching yet another cliched "Star Spangled" Hendrix-tribute solo (missing several notes), Wyclef fails at igniting his stratocaster with lighter fluid, and he again fails miserably at a meaningless, unearned guitar-smashing attempt. With a pricetag still hanging from its headstock, the axe stays 100% intact despite Wyclef's physical exertion.

Stolen from Kid Rock: Less than one hour after The Plastic Bottle Barage, he does the exact same thing.

Stolen from James Brown (Again): Wyclef asks a random audience member (only referred as "Diana") to wrap his final 3 minutes with an impromptu karaoke version of "Piece Of My Heart." Halfway through, Diana yells "STOP THE MUSIC!" and effectively calls out The Refugee All-Stars on playing the song incorrectly -- on live TV, in front of 300,000 people.

There's so much more, but we need to move on with our lives eventually.

3.2 The Point Of No Return: Limp Bizkit

There's a lot to unpack here. A few underlining points:

#1 Durst's vocals pretty much suck, but otherwise their set is actually not bad at all -- way better than their reputation would indicate. The interesting parts of their aesthetic derive almost entirely from bassist Sam Rivers keeping up with guitarist Wes Borland's peculiar inventiveness. Together, they're the secret glue holding it all together, meshing the funk and dissonance within most of the best '90s hiphop.

#2 With 20 years of hindsight, Durst's "provocation" feels unfairly overstated. Perhaps the lore made us anticipate something more extreme, but he's clearly seizing the day, feeding off the crowd without flinching. Otherwise, their set arrived precisely calculated to fuck shit up.

Unfortunately, YouTube has edited out most of Durst's controversial stage banter. "The Point Of No Return" and its aftermath can only be found in full on the PPV version. Here's a breakdown of the timeline:

08:46:00: Recalling the Korn set from one night earlier, the crowd density is not nearly as packed, but they're twice as exhausted, dehydreated, and hungover. Now four songs deep, the rowdiness reaches a new peak.

Durst responds to a note from production: "Hey, they wanna ask us to ask you to mellow out a little bit. They say too many people are gettin' hurt! Don't let nobody get hurt, but I don't think you should mellow out? Mellowing out? That's what Alanis Morissette just had you motherfuckers do. "Birkenstock Rock," y'all. This is 1999, motherfucker. Take your birkenstocks and stick 'em up your fuckin' ass! Now I'm gonna do somethin' to see if I can't get this whole fuckin' place from front to back to get the fuck up!"

The repeated phrase "mellow out" had us thinking they might go into "Sour" from Three Dollar Bill Y'all, which would have been appropriately chill, but instead...

08:47:05: We definitely did not expect the turning point of Woodstock 99 to happen during a Ministry cover (nor did we realize Limp Bizkit ever covered Ministry, let alone during their Woodstock 99 set).

The entire second-half of "Thieves" removes Ministry's lyrics and switches to a breakdown, slowly and slowly building up to that final "GET THE FUCK UP!" He might be a terrible singer, but he's a natural hype man.

08:52:27: "If somebody falls down, pick 'em up!" - Durst sneaks in hardcore ethics.

"One thing I'm not seeing here--- Ohhkay, I'm not saying that." - Durst finally acknowledges they've taken Woodstock 99 to the point of no return -- attempting to unfire the gun, but it's far too late.

08:55:00: Durst gives the crowd a genuine glance of surprise for a quick moment. Seconds later, cameras show the first plywood surfers.

09:00:00: Sam Rivers kicks off "Re-Arranged," their only moment remotely approaching "mellow." Impressive guitar tapping from Wes Borland.

09:08:45: During the breakdown of "Break Stuff," he encourages to crowd to let out "all of that negative energy." Aerial cameras zoom to an ant colony of humans pulling plywood from "The Alamo," also known as Woodstock 99's sound booth tower, exposing the left side and back end. Many shirtless humans have entered. Others pass around 20 boards of plywood. Within moments, dangerously large amounts of people begin crowd surfing them.

09:09:45: DJ Lethal's intro to "Nookie" might not be audible through the PA. TV viewers can still hear everything, including Fred Durst realizing his mic got cut. A chant begins: "BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!" A piece of plywood caves in, unable to hold the weight of the five dudes standing on top, knocking over about 15 other people. Durst thanks someone in the crowd for hitting him with a bottle of orange juice.

09:11:45: PA's back on.

09:16:05: After the 2nd chorus of "Nookie," three porto-potties behind the sound booth are knocked over. About 40 determined shirtless dudes are ripping the entire thing apart. Garbage is flying everywhere.

09:17:45: The outro "Nookie" dies down. The sun has set.

09:23:45 It takes six minutes, but Durst is finally on his very own plywood at the edge of the crowd, and he dedicates "Faith" to all the ladies. Podcast 99 recently claimed that "Durst singing "Faith" while surfing plywood" was the triumphant defining "Star Spangled Banner" moment of Woodstock 99.

3.3 Future Hits

Fun Fact: Rage did not play "Guerilla Radio" at Woodstock, even though The Mandella Effect had previously assured us that this actually did happpen. Same goes for Ice Cube's "You Can Do It."

This was probably the weakest of the 3 days for songs that would later go on to become hits in some capacity, but there were a few...

Kid Rock "Cowboy"
Issued to radio in early August, peaked #5 on Billboard Modern Rock, debuted on TRL August 3rd and retired from TRL on November 2nd after placing in 65 episodes.

Limp Bizkit "Re-Arranged"
Issued to radio in mid-September, peaked #1 on Billboard Modern Rock.

The Chemical Brothers "Out Of Control"
The single charted #21 in the UK. Its video (featuring Rosario Dawson) debuted on 120 Minutes in October.

Counting Crows "Hanginaround"
Released in mid-October, peaked #17 on Billboard Modern Rock, hit #28 on Billboard Hot 100.

Limp Bizkit "Break Stuff"
Issued to radio in March 2000, peaked #14 on Billboard Alternative, debuted on TRL at #6 and appeared at least 30 times throughout March and April.

Moby Play singles
No record exists of Moby's Woodstock setlist, and he does not appear on the PPV. But his summer '99 shows frequently included many of the future hits from Play including "South Side," "Porcelain," "Natural Blues," and "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad."

3.4 WTF Moments

- "Sometimes there's an abundance of things, and sometimes there's a lack. Today, there's an abundance of titties." Dave Matthews' now infamous observation embarrassed so many people that it killed the on-stage objectifying for the rest of Day Two on both stages. We have no memory of his "making weird noises between songs" schtick. DMB's setlist included the most nostalgia bombs of any band so far. The last time we heard "#41" or "Two Step" or "Too Much" or "Tripping Billies" was probably 1998.

- Art Alexakis from Everclear wins the "angriest angry dad of the day" award for his "angry dad" set. "Fuck you to anyone who wants to make this into a commercial venture." Nice try, dad. Their drummer is the poor man's Tre Cool. In a TRL reminiscent moment of slight redemption, they pull over 100 mostly half-naked fans on stage for the last song. One girl with a "thousand mile stare" is visibly peaking on some very intense acid.

- After the Rage set, the show sneaks in a montage of Danny Masterson and Wilmer Valderrama's mundane adventures at The 6th Element aka the all-night rave. Nothing happens.

- The most gigantic WTF of the day goes to Wyclef's "Oldstock Rock." Congratulations.

3.5 Miscellaneous

- Day Two of the PPV kicks off backstage with some long-winded exhausted riffing from Kennedy, host of MTV's Alternative Nation and current Fox News contributor. Sadly, Kennedy may have been the most prepared and musically informed out of the 3 or 4 embarrassingly douchey bargain-bin nobodys selected to provide announcements or interview artists between sets. One clip from YouTube that we haven't been able to locate in the PPV shows a backstage VJ -- or DJ or whatever he was -- interviewing Los Lobos for 8 minutes worth of insultingly racist questions. The band did not seem happy about this.

- Frequent interruptions from the ColumbiaHouse.Com giveaway.

- With regards to their recent history, we would prefer to speak positively about The Tragically Hip. The singer rolled around on the ground a lot, and we like when bands do that.

- Los Lobos and Mickey Hart and Planet Drum both covered "Not Fade Away" as the 2nd-to-last song in their set. Some might say they both chose it as their penultimate song, but not us. We would not say that.

Some good setlist choices:
- Alanis Morrisette played "Uninvited" which we never realized was a non-album track.
- Ice Cube did all three of his hits from The Predator!
- Los Lobos covered "Are You Experienced?" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy." (They did not play "La Bamba.")
- Mickey Hart and Planet Drum's highlight was a drum & vocal song called "Tall Grass."
- The Chemical Brothers did lots of stuff from Surrender, their best record, released about a month prior.

Overall, the majority of the music was very good. We're ready to rescind our "worst concert of all time" award. Sorry Woodstock 99. We had no idea that you didn't completely suck.

Woodstock '99 PPV:

| DAY 1 | | DAY 2 | | DAY 3 |