WOODSTOCK 99 was meant to honour the spirit of the iconic Sixties hippy festival of peace and love – but now it is best remembered for the weekend’s descent into catastrophic carnage.
Two people died, there was sexual violence including a mosh pit gang rape, rioters torched parts of the festival site – and oblivious fans ended up caked with human poo in baking 38C temperatures.
The infamous and disastrous weekend is chronicled in new documentary ‘Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage’ – which is being premiered today on HBO.
It tells the story of how a festival that began with such high expectations managed to go so spectacularly wrong – arguably even worse than the equally infamous Fyre Festival in 2017.
And it comes as UK festival goers return to the first events in two years as Latitude kick off this weekend with 40,000 fans.
Director Garret Price said he wanted to encapsulate the full horror of Woodstock ’99.
“In telling the story of Woodstock ’99, it would have been really easy to structure this as a comedy, poking fun at all things late 1990s — the way people dressed, the music they listened to,” he said.
“But in reality, as that weekend unfolded, it played out much more like a horror film.”
Incredible photos from the event show the utter carnage as riot cops moved in as fires burned into the night, looters ransacked trucks and festival goers stood caked in mud.
Within the first 24 hours, you had kids rolling around in what they thought was mud, but was really human waste
The event was held on a disused air force base – so music lovers were left standing on baking concrete as they attempted to enjoy bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica.
And one of the most horrific incidents of the weekend was a report that a woman was gang raped in a mosh pit during a performance by Limp Bizkit.
RHCP frontman Anthony Kiedis compared the scenes to 1979 war film Apocalypse Now, and MTV host Kurt Loder – who reported on the event live – described it as like a “concentration camp”.
Water and food were described as expensive on site, the festival was isolated from nearby amenities, the East and West stages were 2.3 miles apart, and campers ended up pitching their tents on concrete.
And the festival really started to go wrong when there was the legendary collapse in sanitation on the site.
Organizers had set up barrels of water for drinking but the mostly young males there used them for bathing which rendered it undrinkable.
In a bid to get drinking water, others broke pipes leading to the barrels, causing a flood of water that mixed with sewage from overflowing portable toilets.
Images from the event, held at a disused Air Force base in Rome, New York state, show festival goers covered from head to foot sitting in a toxic cocktail of mud and excrement in the baking heat.
One witness told the new HBO documentary: “Within the first 24 hours, you had kids rolling around in what they thought was mud, but was really human waste.”
As well as a lack of water and rivers of excrement, the 200,000 odd festival goers also had to contend with food and drink being sold at extortionate prices – a bottle of water cost £5 in today’s money.
Soon the mood of was beginning to turn ugly with sex attacks being reported and inadequate security seemingly unable to control to the situation.
Violence erupted during Limp Bizkit’s performance on Saturday night when the crowd took frontman Fred Durst’s exhortations during “Break Stuff” literally.
The crowd began trashing the place as people were carried from the moshpit on improvised stretchers.
The mayhem continued the following night as the Red Hot Chili Peppers were performing, when candles originally distributed as an anti-gun protest were used to start bonfires.
As they played a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire”, hundreds of plastic bottles were used to fuel the flames, causing an audio tower to catch fire.
Hundreds of police officers arrived in a bid to restore order, many of them in riot gear, and fighting broke out with groups of young men.
It was reported were countless sexual assaults and eight reported rapes during the festival.
Tragically there were also two deaths from heat related illnesses as festival-goers crammed into the heaving moshpits.
Between the moshpits and the heat, 10,000 festival-goers would require medical treatment – including 7,000 being treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration – and there were 44 arrests.
The event has been dubbed by some as “the day music died” as the famous festival’s legacy became marred by violence.
“It was dangerous to be around. The whole scene was scary. There were just waves of hatred bouncing around the place, (…) It was clear we had to get out of there,” Loder told USA Today.
And the original founders of the famous 60s Woodstock have attempted to distance themselves from the event, branding it “MTVStock”.