Carson Daly on Woodstock ’99’s chaos: “I thought I was going to die”
▶ Watch Video: Carlos Santana on what we can learn from Woodstock 50 years later
The chaotic and violent events at Woodstock’s 1999 music festival are back under scrutiny following the release of a new Netflix documentary “Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99.”
The summer music festival was supposed to be a revival of the famed 1969 festival, billed as three days of “peace and music” — except the late 90’s reboot was anything but. “Instead, the festival degenerated into an epic trainwreck of fires, riots and destruction,” according to the documentary.
Like other variations of Woodstock, the 1999 festival was hosted in upstate New York, but unlike the original and the 25th-anniversary 1994 Woodstock, which were both held on grassy pastoral grounds, the ’99 version was set behind the concrete walls of the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York, more than 140 miles from the original location, where organizers hoped to avoid hundreds of thousands of attendees sneaking in, as happened during the 1994 version.
An estimated 400,000 people were in attendance and roughly 250,000 people were there on the infamous Saturday night when “hundreds of state troopers in riot gear moved in to protect other vendors’ booths” as the scene unraveled into pure destruction,” according to AP.
“I’ve been getting asked about #woodstock99 a ton recently due to the @netflix doc that’s out. All I can say is I thought I was going to die,” wrote TV personality Carson Daly in an Instagram post. Then host of MTV’s popular video countdown show “Total Request Live,” also known as “TRL,” Daly, now 49, was there to cover the festival.
“It started off great, TRL live from the side of main stage interviewing all the bands (like Jay from Jamiroquai),” he wrote. But then, things started to go wrong. He “started getting pelted with bottles, rocks, lighters, all of it. It got insane, fast. Nightfall, Limp plays ‘Break Stuff’ & the prisoners were officially running the prison,” he wrote.
His boss told him that he and the crew needed to leave, saying, “We can no longer guarantee your safety, it’s time to go!” Daly wrote.
“I remember being in a production van driving recklessly through corn fields to get to safety. It was so crazy & a blur now. I just remember feeling like I was in another country during military conflict,” he wrote.
And Daly said he hasn’t been back to Rome, New York. “I have so many fun memories from that era, this was not one of them,” he said.
The first Woodstock had a lineup that included The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. The ’99 version included many heavy metal and heavy rock bands such as Limp Bizkit, Korn, Kid Rock, Metallica and Creed –– whom critics in the Netflix documentary say helped fuel the crowd’s aggressive energy.
HBO also released a documentary about the infamous festival in 2021, which detailed the event and sought to answer how an iconic celebration of harmony descended into mayhem.