“Woodstock 99, a three-day music festival promoted to echo unity and counterculture idealism of the original 1969 concert but instead devolved into riots, looting and sexual assaults.”

Director: Garrett Price
Release Date: July 23, 2001
Streaming: HBO Max

Woodstock 99: Peace Love And Rage (2021) opens with director Garrett Price explaining the viewpoint his movie was made in. He notes how it is not about the comedic 90s clothes or crazy catchphrases but rather how Woodstock 1999 was a horror movie that showed the depravity of American society and humanity of the time.

Garrett Price is absolutely right. Mankind, and and specifically men, are the worst.

Woodstock 99: Peace Love And Rage is a documentary describing my worst nightmare. The event in Rome, NY was a sea of overzealous people perpetuating angst while literally swimming in garbage and shit. The three-day music festival was like a festering zit; it begins with discomfort, evolves to a visibly disturbing visage, then explodes with puss and gooze that effects everyone around it.

Major credit to Price and his entire crew for combing through the copious amount of B-Roll footage to help make Woodstock 99: Peace Love And Rage as disturbing as it is. There is one specific visual that truly made me want to vomit, and it wasn’t of other people vomiting. Any footage of the waves of people just jumping up and down in unison like tides of destruction made my go all scorpion pose.

Once you get halfway through the documentary you release that there are still Saturday and Sunday to go through. Things were all messed up six hours into the first day on Friday and the depravity only increased. The lack of self-reflection and ownership from Woodstock 1999 major mastermind Michael Lang and others is staggering. They post the blame on the music and musicians. Some of their gripes are valid, but the rebellious tendency such bands showed was triggered by the madness of the crowd and the lack of preparation for them.

The movie itself can not be spoiled if you know the history of Woodstock 1999. This documentary is like taking a Master’s program to amplify how much about the calamity you can retain and explain.

The standout interviewee and leader in the classroom to teach the lessons of the time is the artist, Moby. This dude delivers answers with vigor and vocabulary that put many of the other film participants to shame.

There is one gripe with Woodstock 99: Peace Love And Rage. This may be a little bit of conspiracy theory, but this particular stretch of the documentary was by far the most forced. Wesley Morris is a film critic for the New York Times and a common contributor to The Ringer media universe. Seeing how Bill Simmons executively produced this program, it was not a surprise to see Morris as a personality explaining the festival.

On the first day of Woodstock 1999, DMX performed on the stage in front of a raucous majority white crowd. The white barrage of males are singing along to the DMX lyrics, everyone one of them including the verses with the N word. Morris explains this situation in the movie and is notating how the white people are saying this word with no hesitation.

It is not up for argument that this behavior from the crowd deserves to be highlighted. The speed bump in Woodstock 99: Peace Love And Rage‘s case is that it seems shoe-horned in and forced. This analysis of American society happens early in the documentary, before the more meta interpretations of USA’s depraved mood. Everything that Morris says is true, but it just came at the wrong part in the doc when the exposition of the venue and atmosphere was still the main area of conversation. Maybe it is meant to be a precursor of what mood the crowd devolves to over the the festival’s three days. If this topic was delved into later in the movie, maybe Giles and the documentary editors could link Morris’ thoughts to the white artists performing at Woodstock 1999 and how they all seemed to be emulating something they wished to be while also tarnishing it and themselves.

Imagine if white people were belting out those DMX lyrics now? There would be a blood bath. Massive cancellations all over the place.

Woodstock 99: Peace Love And Rage is the HBO difference. This is not Fyre: The Greatest Party Never Happened (2019) and Fyre Fraud (2019). Woodstock 99: Peace Love And Rage is a massive step up from the most recent musical documentary phenomenon. The terror was real and what is most terrifying is how this music festival spotlighted the horrendous culture America was spouting at that time.

STANKO RATING: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)

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