Here's what Fred Durst said about Limp Bizkit's Woodstock '99 performance
9 August 2022, 15:28 | Updated: 9 August 2022, 16:56
The Limp Bizkit frontman doesn't appear in the new Netflix documentary about the disastrous festival from 1999, but he's spoken in the past about whether he was to blame for all the trouble. Here's what he had to say...
Netflix's new documentary Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 has shocked viewers with its hard-hitting story of the ill-fated US festival.
Designed to follow up the "three days of peace and music" ethos of the original event in 1969, the 1999 version was marred by poor conditions and unbearably hot weather. As the new three-part film shows, tensions in the huge 400,000-plus crowd led to riots, arson, multiple cases of sexual assault and even three (accidental) deaths.
Watch the trailer for Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage
For over 20 years, blame for the Woodstock '99 disaster has been laid at the door of Limp Bizkit, most notably by the festival's organiser John Scher. CNN reported at the time that during the band's set on the Saturday evening "more than two hundred people threw bottles, smashed a barricade and nearly trampled sound-system components. One woman suffered a serious head cut from a thrown bottle."
Jonathan Davis, whose band Korn performed on Friday had some harsh words: "We rocked that place that first night, and everybody had fun. The second night, Limp Bizkit f**ked it up for everybody. They really did. He instigated the whole damn thing - I was right there watching it."
The main accusation centres around the band's performance of the song Break Stuff, during which it's claimed the frontman "incited" the crowd to riot. Durst notably doesn't appear in the new Netflix documentary, but he has spoken about Woodstock '99 in the past.
In a 2012 interview about Woodstock '99, Durst claimed: "When we were onstage, it was the greatest concert of all time. I had no idea that the finger would be pointed at me as a guy starting a riot. But I guess to this day, it's going to be something that Limp Bizkit f**ked up."
He also told the Washington Post: "I didn’t see anybody getting hurt. You don’t see that. When you’re looking out on a sea of people and the stage is twenty feet in the air and you’re performing, and you’re feeling your music, how do they expect us to see something bad going on?"
The festival ended on the Sunday night with a number of fires that were started after a group of peace campaigners gave out candles that were intended to be held aloft during headliner Red Hot Chili Peppers' song Under The Bridge. But, as Durst explained: "They needed someone to point the finger at. They needed a scapegoat. They're not going to put it on the dumb-ass who handed out candles to everybody and said, 'Lets' capture a moment. I bet everybody's gonna light them and hold them up'. After these living conditions, are they gonna burn it down? They're gonna burn it down."
Taking to the East Stage around 8pm on the Saturday of the festival after the comparatively sedate run of Counting Crows, the Dave Matthews Band and Alanis Morissette, the huge crowd went wild. "Let's see if we can't get this motherf**kin' place stirred up a bit," exclaimed Durst.
In the 2012 interview, Durst was taken aback by the response the band received. "I remember getting there and just going Oh my God just look at this place, this is Woodstock. What an honour.
"We walked onstage and it was that wave of people bouncing as far as you could see, hundreds of thousands of people. It was the most amazing, adrenalin-pumping moment that I've ever experienced. I was so amped and ready to rock and we just did what we do."
Halfway through the set, Durst announced: "They wanna ask us to ask you to mellow out a little bit. They say too many people are getting hurt. Don't let nobody get hurt. But I don't think you should mellow out. Mellowing out - that's what Alanis Morissette just had you motherf**kers do. Take your Birkenstocks and stick them up your f**kin' ass!" Limp Bizkit followed this with a cover of Ministry's decidedly un-mellow Thieves.
After the band's seventh song, Re-Arranged, Durst was riding the wave of energy from the audience. He announced their hit Break Stuff by saying: "Hey man, let me ask you a personal question. How many people ever woke up one morning and just decided it wasn’t one of those days, and you’re gonna break some shit?”
He went on: "This one of them days y'all. When everything's f**ked up. You just wanna break some shit. Ya hear me?"
The crowd were already doing just that - they began to dismantle the barriers that surrounded the stage and the audio towers and some reckless souls began to surf across the crowd's outstretched arms on huge pieces of plywood. "That's some tight sh*t there," Durst said in admiration, although his microphone had stopped working for a while.
Limp Bizkit - Live at Woodstock 1999 - Full Show - Official Pro Shot *AAC #Remastered
During the breakdown in the song Nookie, Durst told the crowd: "We already let all the negative energy out. It's time to reach down and bring that positive energy to this motherf**ker. It's time to let go because there are no rules out there. It's time to let it all out. Let's put out some positive vibes in this motherf**ker and have a big ass party."
However, as Durst recalled, he didn't think the crowd got the message. "I meant, OK let's get rid of all that negativity so we can bring positive in. That means jumping, jumping and singing. That doesn't mean start raping and burning the place down. That's definitely not what I meant."
Having spotted more pieces of plywood sailing across the heads of the crowd, Durst decided he too wanted to go surfing. "I thought that's f**ing amazing, how cool is that?," Durst recalled in 2012. "I'm gonna do it. I jumped down off the stage and I go out in the crowd, tell them to bring the plywood over here and I get up on it and I just start rockin' on the plywood."
The set stopped for five minutes as Durst struggled to get into the packed crowd until he balanced precariously on the wood as the band played a cover of George Michael's Faith.
The set now over, Durst recalled the aftermath. "I remember getting off the stage and having some policeman with my manager come around me. They said, Fred, I think you kind of incited a riot. They were tearing down things and people were getting hurt. I didn't see any of that. Everybody I saw was having an amazing time."
But for Tom Morello, who appeared right after Limp Bizkit with Rage Against The Machine, the set represented the very worst that people had come to expect from a rock show: "That music became excess and spectacle and disrespect to audience and peers in the way that you saw at the most awful heights of the hair metal bands."
What did Limp Bizkit play at Woodstock '99?
Limp Bizkit Woodstock '99 setlist 24th July 1999:
- Just Like This
- Show Me What You Got
- 9 Teen 90 Nine
- Break Stuff