He Remembers Woodstock 99 as a Nightmare

Dave Holmes was covering it for MTV
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2021 5:35 PM CDT

You might expect a story that begins "I was at Woodstock" to take you back half a century. But in a piece for Esquire, Dave Holmes transports readers to the Woodstock of 1999, "the only live music event from which I have been evacuated." His piece coincides with the Friday premiere of Woodstock ’99: Peace, Love and Rage on HBO, and Holmes, who was covering the fest for MTV, certainly recalls the "rage" part of the equation. The audience was "mostly white, and these white guys were mostly angry. Angry at the August heat, angry at the lack of shade on the festival grounds, angry at the absence of tap water and the price of bottled water," he writes.

In his telling, the heat was a real factor and exacerbated the other annoyances: that the music never ceased (not the best thing to wake up to in 100-degree weather, one concertgoer tells Holmes now), that the sinks and ATMs weren't working, and that 12-ounce water bottles cost $4, paid for with cash only. Port-a-potty stations were overturned. Candles intended for a vigil were used to set things on fire. And then there were the cereal boxes. Holmes describes them with a hint of PTSD, a giveaway by Kellogg's that ran into an obvious problem: concertgoers didn't have milk, and adding overpriced water to the cereal wasn't really a viable option. "So those little mini cereal boxes became projectiles," writes Holmes. "The corners on those boxes are unforgiving, and some of these dudes could throw. I still can’t look at Snap, Crackle and Pop the same way." (Read his full piece.)

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