The original Woodstock music festival was possibly the most famous flower power event of the sixties, taking place at a dairy farm in Bethel, New York, back in the summer of 1969. And three decades later, in 1999, fans attempted to recreate another version of the iconic concert—dubbed Woodstock ‘99. But this time, it was a total disaster.
Now, a new three-part Netflix docuseries called Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 explores what went wrong. The first episode dropped on Aug. 3, and everyone is already wrapped up in the story.
Reports from the 1999 concert revealed that there was a general lack of access to clean water, trash everywhere, and rampant reports of crimes like sexual assault, looting, and vandalism. Basically, it was the opposite of the vibe the original concert was going for.
“It felt like a crowd could turn at any time,” the singer Jewel says in the trailer, with another person noting that the environment “was just very male ego.” Cut to shots of people starting fires, pulling down concert rigs, and generally acting out of control. Some people even died at the concert.
OK, so what happened and how did it go wrong? Here’s what you need to know.
Did anyone die at Woodstock ‘99?
Three people died at Woodstock ’99, according to MTV. Those numbers included 24-year-old David G. Derosia, who died from heat-related illness, 28-year-old Tara K. Weaver, who was hit by a car while walking along the road after having car troubles after she left the concert, and a 44-year-old man with a pre-existing heart condition who died of cardiac arrest in a Woodstock campground site.
How many people died at the original Woodstock?
There were also three deaths at the original Woodstock. Two young men died from drug overdoses and a third (who was 17) was run over and killed by a tractor that was collecting debris while he slept in a sleeping bag, according to History.
At the end of the concert, the New York State Department of Health had recorded 5,162 medical cases over the four-day concert.
How many people were injured at Woodstock ‘99?
The heat caused a big issue at the concert, where temperatures reportedly reached 100 degrees and water access was limited, per Rolling Stone.
According to The Baltimore Sun, more than 700 people had been treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration halfway through the weekend concert. There were 1,200 admissions to on-site medical facilities, according to Pitchfork.
People got trench mouth.
You may have heard this term while studying World War I, but “trench mouth” was also an issue at Woodstock ’99, too.
Trench mouth causes bleeding, swelling, pain, ulcers between the teeth and death to gum tissue, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It is caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth.
There were issues with access to water during the extreme heat, with 25-minute lines for water fountains, according to Esquire. Plus, because of poor sanitation, human feces reportedly leaked into drinking and shower water, meaning concert-goers were essentially consuming raw sewage, the outlet reported. This led to some people developing trench mouth.
What else happened?
Unfortunately, there were multiple reports of sexual assault and rape.
“At one point I saw this girl, a very petite girl, maybe 100 pounds, who was body-surfing above the crowd and either fell in or was pulled into a circle in the mosh pit,” a concert volunteer MTV. “These gentlemen, probably in the 25–32 age range, looked as though they were holding her down. They were holding her arms; you could see she was struggling.”
Overall, 44 people were arrested at the concert but only one was charged with sexual assault, per Rolling Stone. Bonfires also broke out, vehicles were flipped and set on fire, and vendor booths and merch tents were lit on fire, Rolling Stone reported.
Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang faced several lawsuits after the concert.
Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives by the beach, and hopes to own a teacup pig and taco truck one day.