“The day music died”, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Woodstock ’99 was shocking for a lot of reasons. While I could discuss what exactly went wrong with the concert via a number of the performing artists, I find that often the best way to represent any tragedy is through the lens of Limp Bizkit. A far cry from the original 1969 peace and love phenomenon which gave us Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner and Richie Havens teaching baby boomers how to feel, the ’99 recreation was marred by looting, sexual assault and one spectator dead. So before mentioning Fred Durst or his funny little Chihuahua chops nestled in the most detestable goatee beard this side of the Renaissance, I should set the scene.
Reaching as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it was the hottest day in New York of 1999, the final summer before Y2K. This implosion of all computers and the collapse of society has since been scoffed at but this didn’t stop generation X worrying for their Pokémon, and I assume this, combined with two millennia of other assorted post-Christ angst, made for a particularly rowdy crowd. The peripheries of the year 2000 also suffered one of the most unfortunate musical moments in history with the craze of nauseatingly try-hard nu-metal embodied by Creed, Linkin Park and, most unpleasantly, Limp Bizkit. This was the musical equivalent of that angry, bulbous kid that wears Tapout clothes and will aggressively tell his Nan all about how sick MMA is. The Insane Clown Posse, clown faced rap duo, had already fanned the flames by tossing $100 bills into the mud and dust cocktail of crowd members that faced extortionately priced basic sustenance. One can only imagine the glory of fighting off your fellow emaciated clown-rap fans for the chance of as much $4 water and $12 pizza slices you as could want. The fervour of the crowd can be aptly gauged by the fact that spectators were hyped enough to crowd surf during Alanis Morissette’s performance of ‘Ironic’.
People began destroying the towers, pelting the MTV crew atop them with missiles, tearing off planks of wood from the stage and numerous sexual assault cases were reported
When it came to Limp Bizkit’s performance, lead whimper-grumbler Fred Durst opened the set by strutting up and down the stage, eyeing the crowd like a lascivious beaver. Durst had an almost sexual reverence of the mass of glazed forearms and swirling dust, offering coquettish flirtations to the crowd: “ooh you can’t hear me huh? I guess you can’t hear me… that crowd surfing on the plywood is pretty tight”. The only thing more bile-inducing is the music. Durst performs with the air of one of his pre-pubescent fans half-heartedly whining along to ‘Rollin’’ during their paper round. It was when he began to fill musical interludes with his own bullshit ethos that things went wrong. During ‘Break Stuff’ Durst led up to the breakdown with:
“Its time to read deep down inside and take all that negative energy and let that shit out of your fucking system. You got girl / boy / parent / boss / job problems? You got a problem with me / yourself? Take all that negative energy and bring it the fuck out.”
People began destroying the towers, pelting the MTV crew atop them with missiles, tearing off planks of wood from the stage and numerous sexual assault cases were reported specifically during this song. When later challenged about this, Durst shrugged off responsibility claiming he was “lost in the music”.
Disgusting through and through, not even the most enthusiastic concertgoer can justify this. Any of you who may now sigh at strict marshalling or excessive iPhone usage at gigs can reflect on this as a harrowing alternative and take solace in the fact that the succession of festivals founded after Woodstock ’99 learned from it. Let’s just hope no one will ever again find themselves in a sweltering seventh circle of hell, leered down at by the big satanic humpty-dumpty face of Fred Durst, the Nu-Metal wizard of Oz. Only Limp Bizkit could inspire such a cacophony of cluttered, seething images from me, as though my journalistic faculties are themselves desperately struggling, bustled by a hefty rock fan sweating out $4 pretzels.