With its (literally) fiery denouement still fresh in our memories, Woodstock 99 already feels like Altamont’s evil twin. But just how does it stack up against its two predecessors in terms of human misfortune? Entertainment Weekly crunches the numbers. At the ’69 Woodstock, attended by some 400,000, there were 80 drug arrests, and an estimated 5,000 people treated for conditions ranging from overdoses to heatstroke. The ’94 shindig, with 350,000 attendees, saw 24 arrests (including one for attempted rape), two deaths, and 6,000 individuals treated by medics. The toll from the latest (and, with 225,000 concertgoers, smallest) bash: two deaths, 44 arrests, 3,500 injuries — and most chillingly, four reported rapes and numerous accounts of sexual assault.
One can’t be sure there were no sex crimes at Yasgur’s Farm in ’69, though none were reported. But Woodstock 99 will be remembered in horror — not only by a disapproving establishment but by anyone with a conscience. Dr. Mark Schaller, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, theorizes that some of the reasons for the assaults were ”meteorological as much as generational. Extreme heat tends to make people more likely to do violent things — it’s a cliché, but true.”
As state police press forward with their investigation of the rapes (and other crimes at the festival), the wheels of commerce continue to turn as inexorably as the weather: Epic Records is set to release a Woodstock 99 CD and long-form video on Sept. 14. No word yet if either will feature the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ horrifically ironic rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s ”Fire.”