When: August 12-14, 1994
Where: Winston Farm in Saugerties, New York (Approximately 100 miles of New York City)
Why: To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original Woodstock, which was held in Bethal, New York, roughly 40 miles away from the 1994 festival.
Attendance: Approximately 350,000
Allman Brothers Band
Jimmy Cliff’s All Star Reggae Jam (with Rita Marley & Shabba Ranks)
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Country Joe McDonald (with the Fugs)
Nine Inch Nails
Paul Rodgers Band (with Neal Schon and Andy Fraser)
Porno for Pyros
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sisters of Glory
As a geek for everything 90’s, I decided to take a look at an event that helped define the decade in a strong way. Instead of going through a timeline of events that occurred that weekend in upstate New York, I decided to highlight the top performances by bands and artists from the festival. Off we go with three more days of peace, music and my Top Five Performances of Woodstock 1994.
Blues Traveler, Joe Cocker, Cypress Hill, Allman Brothers Band
5. Crosby, Stills & Nash
A throwback to three gentlemen who performed at the original Woodstock 25 years prior. If there was anybody who could compete with the current music scene it were these three old school hippies. As they took the stage on Saturday afternoon, the temperature in Saugerties was soaring into the mid 80’s. Many fans in attendance were well intoxicated from their drug and or alcohol of choice. CSN opened their set with the very fitting, Love the One You’re With. For the next hour and a half, classic tunes such as, “Deja Vu”, “Southern Cross” and “Long Time Gone” were performed by CSN. In addition, the fellas covered The Beatles, “In My Life” and Buffalo Springfield’s, “For What It’s Worth” The crowd wasn’t disappointed as the mainly 18-25 year old crowd was treated to a nice throwback to an era of music that was an influence to their parents and the generation prior. David Crosby, Steven Stills and Graham Nash ended their set the only way it could. The performed, “Woodstock”. A song originally written by Joni Mitchell, but later covered by these three gentlemen.
4. Blind Melon
Drugs weren’t just among the nearly 350,000 people in attendance, but were also well taken advantage of by the artists on stage. Exhibit A, Blind Melon frontman, Shannon Hoon. Hoon took the stage on Saturday afternoon on the festival’s North stage in his wife’s wedding dress and looked to be in a world of his own. The reason, a lethal combination of LSD and mushrooms. However, Melon were on their A game that afternoon. One of the most underrated bands of the early nineties brought their amazing mix of alternative rock, folk and jam band to upstate New York and performed a 45 minute set that was a true highlight of the three-day event. The set included Melon tunes, “Tones of Home”, “I Wonder”, “Deserted” and their huge radio hit, “No Rain”. Sadly, Hoon would pass away just over a year later on October 21, 1995 due to a cocaine overdose. Hoon and Blind Melon’s legacy was cut short do to drug addiction, but their performance during this festival will never be forgotten.
Oh boy, where to begin. The southern California alternative-funk band are just were simply amazing. As the band took the South Stage on Saturday afternoon, the hundreds of thousands in attendance were in for a treat. The band’s frontman, Les Claypool isn’t only the voice of the band , but also an unbelievably talented bass player. Next to Rush’s Getty Lee, Claypool might be the most talented vocalist/bassist of all time. The bands set opened with the very suitable, “To Defy the Laws of Tradition”. For the next hour the band killed it on stage with a set that also included, “Here Come the Bastards”, “Bob” and “My name is Mud”, which was a little foreshadowing of things that would occur later that evening. The highlight of their set was a cameo appearance by Alice in Chains guitarist, Jerry Cantrell as he joined the band on stage to perform, “Harold on the Rocks”. Alice in Chains was originally scheduled to perform at the festival, but do to the on going drug addiction of frontman, Layne Staley, the band declined to appear. Before Primus left the stage, they had one more song to play as they covered, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”. Which leads me into my next selection of top performances from the weekend.
For anyone who has seen the band live over their 30 year career, you know that when, Ennio Morricone’s, “The Ecstacey of Gold” plays, shit is about to get crazy. The bands signature intro before taking the stage echoed through the crowd of the North Stage just past 11pm on Saturday night. As the four horsemen of metal took the stage, everyone in attendance was about to experience the loudest performance of the weekend. They opened their set with a cover of Bungie’s “Breadfan”, a song usually reserved for the bands encore performances. After that, it was an hour and forty-five minuyes of classic ‘Tallica tunes including, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “Fade to Black”, “Creeping Death and “One”. James, Lars, Kirk and Jason give it their all every show and play off their die hard crowds every time. This evening was no different as Saugerties, New York found out exactly way this band from the Bay Area are the God’s of thrash metal.
1. Nine Inch Nails
On a hot and humid afternoon in Saugerties, the rain began to fall from the sky onto 350,000 people. Sure it was a nice way to cool off for a little bit, but along with rain came mud and lots of it. The area that was being used for the festival was farm land and by mid-afternoon on Saturday, tie-dye turned to a brown mess. Thousands of people in attendance took advantage of the sloppy mess as they began moshing, sliding and rolling in the mud left from the storms. Among those who participated were Trent Reznor and the rest of NIN. By the time they took the stage, the industrial metal/rock boys were filthy and wet, but they didn’t give a flying fuck as they were about to put on the best performance of the weekend. For the next hour and a half, NIN proved why they were one of the most influential groups of the decade. The band’s set included, “Terrible Lie”, “Closer”, “Down in It” and ‘Wish” among others. The NIN set from that evening was exactly what this festival needed to make it a more unique event than the festival 25 years prior.
I hope everyone enjoyed a look back at this memorable weekend. 20 years later, this event still holds up as one of the best concert festivals of all time. I’ll see everyone again in 2019 when I take a look back at Woodstock ’99.