UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – The Woodstock 99′ documentary was recently released, which outlines the 30th anniversary of the music festival in Rome, New York, at the Griffis Airforce Base. However, what was supposed to be peace, love, and happiness was peace, love, and rage.
The July heat, costly water bottles, an aggressive, angry crowd, and fire in 1999 led to three deaths, multiple sexual assaults, dozens of arrests, and thousands of people needing medical attention. New York State Senator Joseph Griffo was featured in the film, where he reflects on the raging musical festival.
“I was very disappointed at what was taking place and felt that as a musician who had really engaged the crowd and really was able to sway that crowd, that he could be helpful,” said Senator Griffo.
What was supposed to be a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of Columbine Massacre turned into various fires that got out of control. Griffo said Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer in the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, did not help defuse the situation.
“Unfortunately, what Anthony Keidis chose to do is to go out and then play the song Fire, a Jimmy Hendrix song, which I think just continued to allow for the motions to continue to escalate and made it a little more challenging, obviously, to deal with everything which we ultimately dealt with.”
Griffo was the Mayor of Rome, who was in support for Woodstock 99′ for exposure and short term economic benefits.
“There was no stigma attached to the event. There was good and there was bad. Some of the positives were that we proved that we could do something big in this area. As a result, we got the Empire State Games two years later, which was a statewide athletics festival, similar to the Olympics.”
Back in 2019, the 50th anniversary of Woodstock was supposed to take place at Watkins Glenn and then Vernon Downs, but because of a lack of planning, it was canceled.
“The concept of bringing big musical events and doing them right, I mean it’s essential because you learn lessons each and every time. That’s the important thing here that you learn the lessons and you try to make sure that you improve upon that so you avoid those types of challenges and problems.”
“Woodstock 99: Peace Love, and Rage” is now available to stream on HBO Max, as part of HBO’s Music Box series.