For some reason, Woodstock 2019 is in the works.
Billboard reports that there will be a 50th anniversary celebration of the original Woodstock, adding yet another player into the bloated festival circuit. The three-day event—August 16-18—will take place in Bethel, New York, and will include a lineup of unannounced performers and “TED-style talks from leading futurists and retro-tech experts.”
[The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts announced,] “Festival goers will also be able to visit the Museum at Bethel Woods, which tells the story of the 1960s through immersive media, interactive engagements, and artifacts from the 1969 festival, as well as experience the special 2019 exhibit We Are Golden: Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival and Aspirations for an Aquarian Future.”
Promoters promise that the festival will utilize the Arts Center’s “state-of-the-art venues and facilities,” with entertainment villages and a series of “bespoke performance areas” to be specially created for the event.
In other words, you will pay $19 for gourmet tater tots.
This certainly sounds like a departure from the last notable Woodstock festival in 1999. Do I remember Woodstock 1999? No. But from what I do know, it was an absolute nightmare, and not just because Korn performed.
While the original Woodstock peddled peace, the 30th anniversary peddled chaos. Woodstock ‘99 was best known for out-of-control bonfires, vandalism, and multiple sexual assaults.
New York State Police investigated four rapes, but eyewitnesses said they saw several more. While some women reported assaults occurring on the site’s campgrounds, several sexual assaults occurred in mosh pits.
Here’s what the Washington Post reported on July 29, 1999, four days after the festival ended:
Police investigator David Krause said one assault allegedly took place in front of the East Stage during Limp Bizkit’s set. A 24-year-old woman from Pittsburgh told police that two men assaulted her with their fingers and “some type of foreign object” before one of them raped her.
“Due to the congestion of the crowd,” read the police investigation report, “she felt that if she yelled for help or fought, she feared she was going to be beaten.”
One woman was assaulted by multiple men during Korn’s set. Another woman was grabbed so aggressively while crowd-surfing to Dave Matthews Band that she was left partially nude, and all that was left of her t-shirt was a collar; it didn’t help that Dave Matthews apparently said, “Today, there’s an abundance of titties” during his set.
Sexual assault was clearly a problem, but the event’s promoters were skeptical that a sexual assault was even possible (emphasis mine):
[Promoter] Both Scher and his partner, Michael Lang, questioned whether it would be possible to sexually assault someone in such a crowded space. “I don’t think it’s conceivable,” Lang said. “You can barely move in a mosh pit – it’s worse than a subway at rush hour.”
Both Scher and Lang conceded that the alleged assaults may have been filmed by video cameras that scanned the audience throughout the festival, providing crowd shots for a pay-per-view broadcast. Lang said he had watched videotapes of the performances by Korn and Limp Bizkit and said he saw no evidence of any sexual assaults beyond what he termed “groping.”
Woodstock 2019 doesn’t have to do much to be a cut above the bedlam of Woodstock ‘99 (or the mudslide shit show of Woodstock ‘94). If its sponsors, Live Nation Concerts and INVNT, have an elementary understanding of sexual assault, that’ll already be a marked improvement.
And please, leave Dave Matthews at home.