Fanning the Flames: The Top 10 Performances at Woodstock 99

WS farmsigns July 26.jpg
Photo by KierDuros via Flickr
Signs outside the grounds of Woodstock 99
This week marks the 13th anniversary of Woodstock 1999, the iconic festival's much-maligned third iteration that kinda dissolved into rape and looting towards the end. As 200,000-strong anarchic gatherings go, everything went off rather pleasantly for much of the festival, but the bonfires, looting and Fred Durst's goony mug quickly became the dominant images in the media. Conveniently pegged by some as the "Death of the '90s" or proof that music and culture had changed for the worse, the truth about Woodstock 99 is a little more complicated.

This was no spontaneous '60s "Happening" miraculously devoted to music and peace (and drugs). It was a three-day, corporate-funded Rock Concert designed to make very large sums of money. Ticket, food and water prices were considered obscene for the time, and portable toilets started filling up and overflowing on the first day. As it turned out, wallowing in their own filth was one of the few ways that concert-goers could beat the heat on the treeless airstrip that served as the festival ground.

That said, until the SWAT teams were called in at the end of the third day, Woodstock 99 looked like a pretty fun place to be. And there was some great music performed that's been mostly forgotten in the wake of the scary, sensational finale. That's why on this anniversary, Rocks Off will leave aside the violent, lawless image that clouds our collective memory of Woodstock 99 and try to focus on the top 10 performers who made Rome, NY, the place to be 13 years ago.

The fires have long since been put out. Let's show these consummate professionals a little peace, love and understanding, what do you say?

10. Korn

Woodstock 99 was something of a high water mark for Korn. The band was at the absolute height of its popularity at the time, riding high on the mainstream success of its 1998 album Follow the Leader. The sight of a rippling sea of 100,000 or so music fans pogoing along to "Blind" bummed out a hell of a lot of teenagers stuck at home across America, watching footage of the set on MTV. On several occasions, members of Korn have cited Woodstock as the most memorable show of their careers.

9. DMX

DMX was one of hip hop's strongest live performers of the '90s, and his set at Woodstock gave him an outsized stage to match his persona. X proved more than up to the challenge presented by the endless crowd, radiating energy as he stalked back and forth across the stage. His gruff rhymes kept the audience bouncing in what had to be a major career highlight for the rapper.

8. The Roots ft. Erykah Badu

Like nearly everybody not named Metallica that played Woodstock 99, the legendary Roots crew stepped their game up noticeably in front of the big crowd. Always a reliable live act, the Roots brought out a resplendent Erykah Badu for their set's highlight, "You Got Me." Today, it's a potent reminder that there were plenty of positive vibes floating around the festival, regardless of the ugliness at the end.

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