Woodstock 94 Revisited

Twenty-seven years ago this weekend, Woodstock 94 took place on Winston Farm just north of Saugerties, New York. Woodstock 94, or “Woodstock II” was the next generation’s attempt to rekindle the same “Summer of Love” spirit their parent’s experienced at the original 1969 fest. This was the first shot at doing so, and many future attempts will completely flop, like Woodstock 50, or will end in fire-burning riots, like Woodstock 99. 1994’s rendition isn’t as shockingly awful, but some believe it’s still incomparable to ’69. This is Woodstock 94.

Woodstock 94
Woodstock ’94 poster, a playoff of the iconic Woodstock ’69 poster art.

Saugerties‘, Winston Farm is approximately 100 miles away from Bethel Woods and Yasgur’s Farm – the birthplace of “Woodstock.” But, Winston Farm was supposed to be the original location for the ’69 fest until the owners got cold feet. This change in location was a way of improving the flaws of the previous festival for the second time around, while still holding true to Woodstock roots.

The 1994 concert was scheduled for August 13–14, and Friday, August 12 was added after first-pool tickets sold out under 12 hours. Ticket prices hiked to $135, plus a three-day pass to the beer tent was $250 – a huge jump from 69’s $18 three-day pass. Tickets were only sold in sets of four, and one parking pass was provided per set.

Woodstock 94
A snippet of Billboard Magazine’s coverage

The star-studded lineup included ’69 alum mixed in with up-and-coming ’90s bands. Plus, the extra day allowed for many more artists to join the setlist.

Friday, August 12, 1994

Aphex Twin

Blues Traveler

Candlebox

Collective Soul

Deee‐Lite

Del Amitri

Jackyl

James

King’s X

Līve

Orbital

Orleans

Peace Bomb

Sheryl Crow

The Orb

Todd Rundgren

Violent Femmes

Huffamoose

Abba Rage

Lunchmeat

Saturday, August 13, 1994

Aerosmith

Blind Melon

Candlebox

Crosby, Stills & Nash

Cypress Hill

Fight

Hot Tuna

Joe Cocker

Melissa Etheridge

Metallica

Nine Inch Nails

Primus

Rollins Band

Salt‐n‐Pepa

Suicidal Tendencies

The Band

The Cranberries

Crosby, Stills & Nash

Youssou N’Dour

Zucchero

Sunday, August 14, 1994

Cypress Hill

Fight

Hot Tuna

Rollins Band

Salt‐n‐Pepa

Suicidal Tendencies

The Band

The Cranberries

The Roots

Weir & Wasserman

Green Day

Country Joe McDonald

Porno For Pyros

Sisters of Glory

Allman Brothers Band

Santana

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Spin Doctors

Traffic

Bob Dylan

There was no Youtube back then. If you wanted your band to get big, you had to hope it came on the radio. We hadn’t heard of bands like Blind Melon and Collective Soul yet, and a lot of these people (festival-goers) had never been to a concert before.

Dan Lane, Woodstock 94 attendee

The fest can be credited for the growth of many young millennial bands. Even Green Day was just finding their fame as their second album Dookie, released six months prior to Woodstock 94, would hit #4 on the charts only weeks after the festival weekend.

Woodstock 94
Snap of the Woodstock ’94 stage art

Promoters ensured the event would be secure with drug dogs, security brigade nicknamed the “peace patrol,” hundreds of port-o-johns, and chain-link fence. Re-entry was not allowed, but festival-goers smuggled food and drink over fences and through bushes. There were no reports of excessive force or need for riot control like there was in 1999.

From the looks of it we thought we were gonna get strip-searched at entry, (with the dogs and officers) but it was pretty mellow, actually. I think the light security is what they tried to fix in ’99 but that all went wrong.

Dan Lane

500,000 young-adults flocked from around the country in fear they were going to miss out on something great. Woodstock ’69 attendees even paid a visit to see how they compared. Festival-goers did seem to enjoy the excitement of making history and there was a notable peaceful vibe across the farm. People were just happy to be there and enjoying music.

People are understanding that Woodstock 94 is a seminal gathering and a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Promoter John Scher for Billboard Magazine

This fest was rumored to be even bigger than 1969, with two stages and constant MTV coverage. Unlike the first festival, ’94 hosted two large stages with constant live music on each. There were a mix of bands playing each stage, for example, while Green Day was playing on the South Stage, Weir & Wasserman were on the North. This helped spread audiences evenly and highlighted the divide of subcultures. DJ rave sets continued the party late into the night.

Don’t worry: The two stages, facing opposite directions, are about a third of a mile apart, so there’ll be little chance the sound from one will interfere with the other.

An excerpt from the Baltimore Sun 8/10/1994

A rainstorm passed over the festival grounds, on top of the cooling sprinklers, leading to the notorious moniker of “Mudstock.” Described by the New York Times as “a sea of mud and trash and amid evidence of anarchy,” festival-goers took this opportunity to roll around, dance, and sling the wet dirt onto the stage – it did not help that Primus had their song called “My Name is Mud” on the setlist.

Woodstock 94
Aug. 14, 1994 — A couple dances in the mud to Traffic in the North Stage area
(Credit: Times Union Staff Photo by Steve Jacobs ATU112)

There were mile-long conga lines with half-naked people running around. You could feel them coming – they wouldn’t stop either. If you were in the way, you were getting trampled by a train of muddy kids chanting “Primus Sucks.”

Dan Lane
Credit: Michael Greenlar

Was the hype just too much? Anything with the “Woodstock” name attached is bound to have some high expectations. At the time, some attendees complained the event was too saturated in over-commercialized gimmicks. Looking back 27 years later, It is difficult to compare Woodstock 94 to the pedestal Woodstock ’69 is on. After all, even ’69 was a commercialized event too, inviting the biggest names of the time to help put a spotlight on the era’s changing times. Even Led Zeppelin historically turned down Woodstock ’69 to make more money playing in Asbury Park on the same weekend.

All expectations aside, Woodstock 94 was just as good as fests like Lollapalooza were at the time. It’s the music and the people that make it a memorable experience, not the gimmicks.

Dan Lane

The mid-90s were a very different time compared to the late 60s as well, not everyone was in the same ex-Vietnam hippie-free-spirit in the 90s. There were people holding on to that Summer of Love spirit, but others were clad in platform boots, grungy flannels and buzzcuts.

Subcultures were everywhere. You’d be walking around thinking “wow that guy has a lot of facial piercings” and the same guy will be looking at you like “wow that guy has way too much tie dye on.” Like, immediately after Joe Cocker’s set you had people barricading the stage for Blind Melon. It was wild.

Dan Lane
Woodstock 94
(Image credit: Getty Images/John Atashian)

A commemorative double live CD set was released on November 8, 1994, nearly three months after the festival weekend. Titled “Woodstock 94,” the two-disc set documents the best song of each of the 27 performing artists. Check out our Woodstock 94 Spotify playlist based on the album, as well as a playlist with some live footage on Youtube.

After 27 years, it seems 1994’s rendition of Woodstock was, generally, pretty nice. Positive memories, crazy rumors and great music came out of it. The fest served as a cohabitation of multiple generations of music, so maybe, more peace and love came out of it than expected. Plus, Woodstock’s reputation was about to get much worse in the years to come. Enjoy ’94 while it lasted!

Other notable moments:

* A “protest concert” was rumored to go on at Yasgur’s Farm frontlined by ’69 alum, though many of the claimed attendees were playing at Winston Farm the same weekend. It is unclear if this rumor is true due to lack of media coverage.

*RHCP wore their iconic light bulb costumes for the first half of their Day 3 set, then changed into Jimi Hendrix costumes to pay homage to Woodstock ’69.

* Green Day engaged in a mud slinging fight with the audience.

* Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt was accidentally punched in the face by a security guard, knocking out some of his teeth.

* Rumors circulated that The Rolling Stones were to make a surprise appearance because they were scheduled to play a concert in New York that weekend.

* Johnny Cash was invited to perform on the last day, but after learning that he would not be performing on the main stage, declined to appear.

* Most of the ’90s-era bands (and their instruments) were completely caked in mud by the end of their performances, audiences were more respectful towards ’60s-era musicians.

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