Now Streaming: Netflix’s ‘Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99,’ a Can’t-Miss Look at the Notorious Carnival of Chaos

Adrian GarroCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Woodstock ’99 has clearly been on the minds of many lately.

Last July, HBO Max premiered Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage, a new documentary directed by Garret Price and executive produced by Bill Simmons as the first entry in MUSIC BOX, “a collection of documentary films exploring pivotal moments in the music world.” The doc pulled no punches in detailing the significant logistical issues and circumstances that played a role in the weekend’s devolution from a planned celebratory revisiting of the original 1969 Woodstock concert and its 1994 sequel, both of which had their own problems but seemed like utopian perfection when compared to the events of ’99.

This past Aug. 3, Netflix debuted its own look at the infamous three-day festival in Rome, New York — and Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 is not only a perfect complement to last year’s doc, it’s perhaps even more detailed, broken into three episodes that dive headlong into the unbridled chaos of the whole thing.

The impact of Trainwreck hits especially hard in light of this past November’s tragic events at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival in Houston that saw 10 concertgoers die of “compression asphyxia” after being caught in an immense, inescapable and terrifying crowd crush.

Throughout Trainwreck, much is made of “this was bad, but it could have been so much worse” — which is definitely true, given the harsh conditions of more than 200,000 mostly inebriated people stuffing into the 3,600-acre site of the former Griffiss Air Force Base. While many (mostly avoidable) aspects of Woodstock ’99 were truly disastrous, it somehow avoided circumstances like what befell Astroworld, but that lingering “what if?” makes the questions posited in the Netflix series that much more devastating to consider.

In addition to many interviews with folks on the production side of the festival, Trainwreck features stories and memories from Jewel, Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis, Bush lead singer Gavin Rossdale, Fatboy Slim, late Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang and more, each providing firsthand recollections of their experiences as part of the mess.

The whole thing contextualizes all of the elements that went into the show’s planning, development and its impact on pop culture at the time, and it’s a massively entertaining — and, at times, harrowing — viewing experience.

Watch the documentary series via Netflix.

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