The Atlantic – HBO’s Woodstock ’99 Documentary Is a Dark Warning

Just as concerts return, a new film reveals the cynicism and cultural rot that led to one of the most notorious shows ever. By Spencer Kornhaber Catherine Lash / HBO We’re halfway through the first summer of full-capacity crowds at American arenas and nightclubs after pandemic-induced hibernation. Have you attended a glorious, mythmaking concert to mark the occasion?  Perhaps Foo Fighters reopening Madison Square Garden gave you chills, or maybe you air-tromboned to the band Chicago at New Jersey’s first big comeback show (NJ.com’s review: “Enjoyment came in many forms Thursday night”). Or perhaps you’ve had a less lovely live-music experience. One recent viral news story described impalement and alleged strangulation at a rave in Kentucky. Another, from this past weekend, featured someone throwing a shoe at DaBaby. When I went to see a DJ set in my neighborhood, a disturbingly intoxicated guy danced up to me, grabbed my water bottle, guzzled everything in it, and, like some sort of anti-hydration dragon, immediately and theatrically spit it out. Then there’s the COVID of it all: more than 1,000 infections traced to a Dutch music festival, a Foo Fighters’ team member testing positive, talk of possible new shutdowns and cancellations in response to the Delta variant. It is true that seeing your favorite musician perform “is the most life-affirming experience,” as Dave Grohl wrote for this publication early in the pandemic. Questlove’s new hit documentary, Summer of Soul—about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which is sometimes referred to as the “Black Woodstock”—beautifully highlights how concerts can create community and positive change. But for an expectations check, a different documentary about a different Woodstock is worth watching. In this season when many events will be overhyped as momentous, the new HBO film Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage offers a chilling demonstration of how greed, cultural rot, and the vagaries of crowd behavior can make a concert into a generation-defining thing for all the wrong reasons. Read: Why the original Woodstock can never happen again The general contours of the Woodstock ’99 story are nearly as legendary as the original Woodstock’s. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the miraculous gathering of hippies at a dairy farm in upstate New York, organizers (including the 1969 event’s co-founder Michael Lang and the veteran promoter John Scher) put together the third major iteration of the world’s most famous music festival (the second, Woodstock ’94, had gone off pretty well). A bill dominated by heavy-metal acts—Korn, Metallica, Limp Bizkit—attracted about 400,000 attendees...

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The Washington Post – Listening to her older records, Joan Baez hears perfection in an ‘unsurpassable’ voice

The Washington Post – Listening to her older records, Joan Baez hears perfection in an ‘unsurpassable’ voice

The Kennedy Center honoree redefined folk music and showed up wherever her songs and courage were needed. Folk legend Joan Baez, one of the five 2021 Kennedy Center honorees, at her Northern California home in 2018. (Ramona Rosales) Imagine a young woman, free of makeup, a curtain of black hair, barefoot even in the Massachusetts winter, burnishing 200-year-old ballads in a crammed Cambridge coffeehouse, picking like an old hand at her acoustic guitar. At the launch of the 1960s, this was radical, inverting music on its shiny, hair-sprayed head. Joan Baez landed on Time magazine’s cover, lauded as the Queen of Folk. All at the august age of 21. Her searing soprano with its trademark vibrato exhausted superlatives. It was declared incomparable yet compared to everything: old gold, the clear autumn air. It was deemed a line straight to God — staggering, the voice of an enchantress, a sibyl, a siren. “The gift,” she calls her voice, which once traveled three octaves. “If I view it that way, then I can appreciate it and talk about it for what it is, not something I created,” says Baez, now 80. “It helps me stay grateful.” Yet, she had a hand — or, precisely, an index finger — in augmenting her sound. At first, the vibrato had to be coaxed. As a teenager, “I literally sat in front of the mirror and wobbled my Adam’s apple up and down,” she says, demonstrating the Baez vibrato technique via Zoom, from the kitchen of her Northern California home, a portrait she painted of her granddaughter above the fireplace. Many performers practice public self-abnegation about their talent. Please, I can’t bear to hear my work. Not Baez, one of this year’s five Kennedy Center honorees. “I love to listen to my albums,” she says. There are 40, one issued almost every year during the first two decades. Baez is partial to her sound on the early ones. “That instrument is just unsurpassable. That little vocal box and all that stuff comes out — it’s just, to me, it’s some kind of its own perfection,” she says. The perfection, by her own estimation, lasted 20 years. Baez performs at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I., in 1963. (Max Desfor/AP) “She got bigger than folk singers ever get. She didn’t come across with a lot of ego,” says Roger McGuinn, founder of the Byrds, who first heard Baez as a teenager...

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