For all but the most apathetic viewers, this concert souvenir is enjoyable in inverse proportion to familiarity with the real-life Woodstock '99 festival: the less you know about the hour-to-hour experiences of the audience and the event's violent denouement, the more you can enjoy the show. This 2½-hour summation, which offers one song each from 29 of the artists that appeared, can be viewed as a grab bag of funk, rock, hip-hop, and pop spanning several generations of performers, from show opener James Brown ("Sex Machine") to bad-boy rockers Limp Bizkit ("Show Me What You Got"), congregating under the would-be "brand" (as event promoters have baldly called it) first established on Yasgur's farm 30 years earlier.
The '99 edition, however, wasn't your father's Woodstock, despite the involvement of one of the original event's promoters. Moved to a decommissioned military airfield, cordoned by pricey concession and crafts stands, and designed to feed pay-per-view and cable TV (and, of course, the eventual home video version), Woodstock '99 seems far removed from the "peace, love, and music" mission of its namesake. Shooting on videotape, the production crew delivers a smoothly edited, crisply rendered concert with equally good audio resolution; if the team of directors occasionally cuts to the crowd, and to such mild (and mildly exploitative) provocations as topless female fans, dancing to the nonstop music, this is much less a cultural document than a straightforward concert video largely shorn of the drama. Given that the program's executive producers were the event's promoters, no one would reasonably expect them to 'fess up to deteriorating site sanitation or the eventual rape and riot that cast a dark shadow over the event.
With those indignities edited out, we're left with a lineup including G. Love & Special Sauce, Jamiroquai, Lit, Live, Sheryl Crow, DMX, the Offspring, Korn, Bush, Kid Rock, Everclear, Dave Matthews Band, Alanis Morissette, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Everlast, Elvis Costello, Jewel, Megadeth, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others. Even with some individually lackluster turns, the sheer length of the bill is impressive--and, unlike the real event, you can fast-forward through the occasional "feel-good" interludes that try to graft some semblance of community onto the event, or such musical low points as the "feel-bad" rap-rock of Insane Clown Posse ("F* the World," an utterly pointless exercise in obscenity).
Die-hard fans of the headliners will probably want to take a peek at the stronger performances, however. But parents should be forewarned that the title carries an advisory sticker for lyric contents and those clips of less inhibited fans. --Sam Sutherland