The mud was everywhere – and (disgustingly) it wasn’t just mud

Mud was a big part of Woodstock 1979, but it was somehow an even bigger part of the event that took place 20 years later. Attendees of Woodstock 1999 could be found swimming in pools of mud to try and cool off but, in a truly disgusting twist, some of these mud lakes were actually full of human waste thanks to the septic system overflowing. Worse than that, even once this knowledge was out in the open, people continued to play in the sewage, even rolling around in the mud lakes while people relieved themselves in them!

Kid Rock fled the stage from on onslaught of plastic bottles

Kid Rock has always been something of an unpredictable figure in rock and roll, and his Woodstock 99 appearance was no different. In a surprisingly wholesome twist, he asked the watching crowd to pelt him with plastic bottles, in an effort to remove some of the mountain of trash that had already accumulated on the ground. Unfortunately, the audience got a little too into the idea and soon filled the stage with so many bottles that he was forced to end his set early and flee. Be careful what you wish for!

Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers went naked in front of thousands

Red Hot Chili Peppers have had their share of boundary-pushing moments over the years, gaining notoriety in the early years for performing with only socks over their private parts. For their headline slot at Woodstock 99, bass player Flea took things further, performing their set in front of over 100,000 people completely nude. Rather than just exposing himself for laughs, Flea also made a point of telling the men in the crowd to lay off their gross treatment of women, which had proved a particular problem at the festival.

Insane Clown Posse threw a genuinely insane and clownish stunt

Credit: Scott Gries/ImageDirect

If you name your band something like Insane Clown Posse, it’s expected that you’ll bring the chaos whenever you perform. So it should surprise no one to know that when the band took to the stage at Woodstock 1999, they almost caused a full-on riot and stampede. For some reason, the band decided to throw $100 bills into the crowd during the high point of their set, which understandably led to a dangerous crush as everybody rushed to the front of the stage. That’s not funny at all.

The line-up was a bit odd

When putting together a music festival of any kind, correctly arranging bands on the line-up is the only thing that stands between success and chaos. It can be difficult to strike a balance: put too many similar acts on one after another and things get stale, but switch the mood up too quickly and you get, well, what happened at Woodstock 99. The Saturday line up sported such mellow acts as Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band and Alanis Morissette – followed by the extremely loud and aggressive Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine and Metallica.

The security was oppressive and ineffectual

Credit: Scott Gries/Getty Images

Even if they seem kind of mellow and quaint in hindsight, the original Woodstock festival did have its fair share of crowd control problems, so it’s no surprise that later iterations of the festival upped the amount of security significantly. In 1999, 500 New York State Troopers were enlisted in addition to members of the New York Police Department and hundreds of civilian volunteers who were already there. Unfortunately though, the volunteers proved hard to motivate, and by the festival’s end more than half had given up attempting to control the raucous scenes and had instead chose to join in!

The crowd expressed some contradictory attitudes to patriotism

Credit: Scott Gries/Getty Images

Throughout its decades-long history, Woodstock has always been a proudly counter-cultural festival, so it’s no surprise that when noted rabble-rousers Rage Against the Machine burned an American flag onstage during their Woodstock 99 set, the crowd went absolutely wild. What makes less sense is the fact that after Canadian soft rockers Tragically Hip began singing O Canada while onstage, that exact same crowd responded by bellowing The Star Spangled Banner and throwing bottles and even rocks. So much for being anti-establishment!

An unfortunate scheduling clash meant there were no nearby hotels for those trying to escape

Credit: Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Given the almost post-apocalyptic atmosphere and conditions at Woodstock 1999, it makes sense that at least some of the festival-goers decided that mudbaths, car fires and alcohol-fulled dehydration weren’t for them. Unfortunately for those wanting to get out of there, every hotel room in the surrounding area was booked up months in advance – and not for the rock and roll reason you might think. The Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony took place the same weekend in neighbouring Cooperstown, leaving even such big names as Alanis Morissette, Howard Stern and George Clinton being unable to find accommodation.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers might have made things worse when the fires broke out

As Red Hot Chili Peppers performed the closing set of Woodstock 1999, candles were handed out for what was meant to be a vigil for the Colombine massacre. Instead, some members of the crowd used their candles to start fires. When the organisers asked the band to try and calm the crowd down, the band did the opposite, performing an impromptu cover version of the iconic Jimi Hendrix track Fire. The enraptured crowd took the theme literally, with acts of arson and destruction popping up all over the place.

Female attendees were exploited on the festival’s official website

Credit: Scott Gries/Getty Images

Much has been said about how dangerous it was to be a woman at Woodstock 1999, but the problems extended beyond the festival grounds themselves. Throughout the weekend, the Woodstock website was constantly updated with pictures of topless women, with captions like “nice pair” and “show your t**s!” None of the women whose photos were posted were asked if they’d like their pictures to appear on the site, and the festival’s coproducer John Scher later called the whole promotional effort “repugnant.”