Was Limp Bizkit Really to Blame for Woodstock ’99?
If you watched the Woodstock ’99 documentary on HBO earlier this year, you saw Limp Bizkit receive a large part of the blame for the chaos that unfolded at the festival. But was Limp Bizkit really to blame for Woodstock ’99 devolving into a fiery riot?
Extreme heat, shortage of supplies, overcrowding and aggressive music doesn’t exactly make for three days of peace and love. Instead, riots, sexual assaults and even deaths come to mind when Woodstock ’99 is brought up. But for all the problems and all the causes of the problems that eventually led to the failure of the music festival, the finger tends to get pointed towards one band — Limp Bizkit.
Woodstock ’99 promoter John Scher, along with original Woodstock ’69 organizer Michael Lang just marketed the festival to what was popular at the time, and unfortunately, nu-metal came hat in hand with aggression, misogyny, homophobia, and was very much a hit with the angry frat boy-type audience. But what people forget about Woodstock ’99 is that the worst of the rioting, looting and assaults didn’t even happen the same day Limp Bizkit performed. They occurred the day after.
The fact was Woodstock ’99 was plagued by a series of oversights by the organizers, and the extreme summer heat only added fuel to the fire. People saw through the greed of the high tickets costs and overcharging for things like water bottles. The security they hired was severely under-qualified. They did a horrible job of planning things like access to toilets and showers. The retired air base was simply spread out way too far between stages and the tenting area, all with MTV and the media hyping it to be a festival of total freedom, like the second coming of Woodstock ’69.
One moment that HBO’s Woodstock documentary didn’t show was Fred Durst saying to the audience, ”We already let all the negative energy out. It’s time to bring some positive energy into this motherfucker.” In a later interview, Durst recalled, “I don’t think [the crowd] understood what I meant. Ok, let’s get rid of all that negative energy so we can bring positive in. That means start jumping — jumping and singing. It doesn’t mean start raping and burning the place down.”
Woodstock ’99 made Limp Bizkit go from the bad boys of TRL to villains in the mainstream media. News reports showed Fred Durst singing “Break Stuff” and clipped it over video of all the mayhem that ensued. For the narrative, it was convenient. The festival ruined the mythic brand of the peaceful Woodstock gathering of the ‘60s, but to this day, John Scher lays the blame on the bands, especially Limp Bizkit. It let the organizers off the hook, but maybe they should’ve seen the issues in trying to put a dollar sign next to the romanticism of the old festival. Sometimes people don’t want the truth, they just want a scapegoat.
Watch the full video on whether or not Limp Bizkit were to blame for Woodstock ’99 below.