Woodstock Music and Art Fair took place in August 1969 and became a defining moment for the counterculture generation. Drawing huge crowds, pictures from the festival have become iconic. Its reputation as a high cultural watermark was cemented by a documentary which was released a year later and spread the message around the world. Taking their inspiration from one of the most famous moments in music history, a group of promoters came together to create Woodstock ’99.
Once again taking place in New York, this huge event drew crowds of 400,000 and aimed to recreate the famous atmosphere of its namesake. It didn’t quite go to plan. This time the bands would reflect the prevalent musical movement, nu-metal, and the liked of Kid Rock and Fred Durst had wildly different interpretations of free love. Tim Travers Hawkins and Celia Aniskovich’s documentary, Burn It Down!, discovers just what went wrong.
Burn It Down! is a cautionary tale of what can go wrong when the people organising a major event are inexperienced, incompetent and don’t have the requisite planning skills. Spurred on by the excessive heat, no one seemed to consider how angry white boys would react to their heroes’ misogynistic dog-whistling. The results were truly appalling. Interviewing organisers, performers, workers, locals and agitators, Burn It Down! is rough and ready portrait of disorganised Hell.
Burn It Down! screened at London Film Festival.