Woodstock ’99: Peace, Love, and Rage: Film Review

The beauty and whimsy of 1970’s Woodstock is something the few to many have experienced once in their lifetime. It captured the calm and effervescent unity amongst the festival-goers. 30 years later, we would see the reverse happen at Woodstock ‘99. The festival defined a cultural shift in society that didn’t parallel the 1994 festival. They direct partial blame toward pop music, which didn’t fit the mold of the 90s counterculture. Garret Price’s new film Woodstock ‘99: Peace, Love, and Rage delivers dueling cases for the horrors and beauty of the festival.

Garret Price delivers an informative horror flick and concert documentary full of ideas that have a thin veil, like most true crime documentary series trending today. What they bring into the fold are these ideas about the raging toxic masculinity that has allowed many acts of sexual assault to go undermined in the aftermath, the auditory response from the audience, and the lengths to which a performer knew what they were brewing. 

As the documentary stacks idea after idea, there are moments where the film starts to tread between pieces of information undercut by stunningly restored footage of the concert from the various archives  – MTV/Pay-Per-View/Print media. However, it cuts corners to keep intact the most glaring issues, one of which culminated from an underlying motto of the original festival: FREE LOVE

Free love wasn’t necessarily free in 1999 unless you were one of many aggressors who chose to redefine the term free. 1999 had people violating females, ages as young as 14, and the idea of free love on both ends was an expression of love of one’s body with the amount boobs present and the toxic-rape culture with the amount of sexual assault reported. In the documentary, Moby mentions that within the nu-metal and rap, the understanding was absent and picking apart what they like: misogyny and homophobia, which fueled frat boy rape culture.

Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine, and Metallica weren’t on a tight leash. The underlying issue stemmed from a callous nature when performing. It was a matter of trying to find equilibrium between an image and the safety of the attendees. It shifts the perception of the concert as this wild rage-fueled event, and it undermines performance highlights and any positive discourse throughout the past 22 years. These discussions spread from the infrastructure to the pre-established sentiment created by MTV in the fight between the uproarious and bombastic rap-rock/nu-metal and the new age of fun and hyperactive teen-pop, amongst others.

Garret Price creates juxtaposition by breaking nostalgia glasses and forcing us to see glaring differences between the three festivals. Unfortunately, despite the number of beautiful highlights, there isn’t much to digest outside of nu-metal and Limp Bizkit made white boys extra harsh and rapey.

Piece-by-Piece, more issues get passed over in simple mentions by the interviewed artists, attendees, and music critics. It makes the marketing of the film slightly manipulative as it breezes through topics swiftly. There are moments the film shows you the all-night party for fans of electronic music and Moby, which gets tossed aside like a salad on pizza night.

The film takes the time to show the chaos, but it lacks proper cohesion in the editing shifting around these topics like a commercial right before the climax. There have been exposés and articles revisiting and detailing the events of the festival. At a point in the film, you hear Rolling Stone Magazine’s music editor, Rob Sheffield, remember having to sleep on white pizza boxes for its linear comfortability and piss visibility. The amount of trash and debauchery preceding the peak of the chaos, with grace and debilitating nausea, became an afterthought. The many attendees had a mindset that mirrored those from the 94 festival: one last hurrah before adulthood. 

Garret Price does a solid job telling you this horrific and chaotic story that formed the wrong kind of unity and demonized an ideal that held for years. It’s filled with beautiful restorations of performance and unique interviews from critics and festival-goers. I recommend this to whoever enjoys a solid music documentary that shies away from an individualized artist.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Weezer – Van Weezer: Review

Weezer was supposed to release Van Weezer back in May of last year, but due to COVID-19 it got shifted a whole year and it may have been for the better. In January, they released OK Human, which was an amalgamation of baroque pop rock and thematic for a time where isolation was easing and normal habits started recurring like commutes and the easing of restrictions at food and beverage locations. However Van Weezer comes in as the complete opposite, in sound and tone, from OK Human. Rivers Cuomo writes these songs in the lyrical and thematic style of glam metal/hair metal from the 80s, taking cues from Van Halen, Whitesnake, and Night Ranger to name a few. It’s youthfully energetic and complete joy to listen to, even when it starts teetering at the end with songs that feel empty and forgettable. 

We’ve had the opening track, ”The End of The Game,” available since 2019 and it proved to be an indication of what is to expect from Van Weezer. The band, and especially Rivers Cuomo, brings a youthful energy that was lacking from their cover album, The Teal Album. The electrifying guitar strings embolden the monstrous percussion and vocal performance from Rivers, who is just having a great time along with the rest of the band. And this is something that felt absent from their covers album.

Unlike their cover album, Van Weezer takes the plunge into being focused on the sonic textures and small details that separates the genre of glam metal from the others. It comes primarily from the instrumentation and vocal deliveries, which are embossed by the echoed melodic reverbs in the choruses. They keep this in the forefront, while in the background they deliver another standard Weezer album, lyrically. But thematically there are some similarities, the content of the storied lyrics are approached with relevance to the kind of music they have been delivering recently, so it’s refreshing to hear this new sonic approach.

This is slightly new territory for Weezer as they don’t always elevate their sound to mirror the power of metal and specifically glam metal/stadium rock. But they have been able to prove otherwise when they delivered an excellent piano rock album earlier this year. Though, Weezer’s slight backdrop in power pop initially took away some doubt before clicking play, but they really understand the undertow sounds of glam metal by properly incorporating the unique guitar riffs and powerful solos. The music is elevated to exponential levels that you’ll find yourself at odds with as you head bang to Weezer songs, but that is what they do here.

The sonic elevation is audacious throughout, with many high points like the unique interpolation of “Crazy Train” on “Blue Dream.” But Van Weezer reaches its peak too early and as we bend the corner to the last third, we start to see a decline in the quality. It starts to feel more of the same as the beginning, with similar and repetitive instrumental patterns that have you feeling like hitting skip till it starts at track one. However, throughout the first eight tracks there is so much visceral power that you forget Rivers Cuomo is singing some geeky fun and introspective lyrics.

The simple beauty behind the geeky and nerdy charm comes naturally inside the powerful rock anthems, as Rivers Cuomo brings it with his vocal performances, which try to come off as part of the era. As the year progressed he has been able to adapt to the content of the music, like how January’s OK Human was mostly filled with songs about what they would do in quarantine and sometimes in life. It was simpler than some of their more try hard projects, like The Black Album, which tried to replicate some of the sonic success of The White Album. And on Van Weezer Rivers channels that charm to elevate the music to amplify a stadium. A lot of the melodies and lyrics are fun and infectious that hardcore fans will find the enjoyment in listening to every word; however the balance in solos/instrumentations to vocal performances makes it an album that can bring crowds who want post-modern nostalgia.

The first two thirds of the album have their own beautiful execution of originality with smooth transitions, like the one between “Blue Dream” and “1 More Hit.” But the last two tracks deescalate the whole rock show vibe, which some shows do in elegant fashion, but the slower melodies of the piano rock “Precious Metal Girl,” and the retreading “She Needs Me,” don’t hit the landing. And even though these tracks don’t carry the weight all the way through to keep you attention for all the 33 minutes, Weezer at least brings their strongest component, the charm. 

Van Weezer is a pure delight that will have you mirroring the fun Weezer has performing it. It isn’t their most profound work, lyrically, and brings enough to keep you engaged and yearning for stadiums to fill up like before. This is the kind of music that will make more of an impact live, but if not, your audio system will be enough to head bang and play it loud.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.