“But above that, the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that half a million kids can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing BUT fun and music, and I God bless you for it!”
Woodstock exists in cultural memory as the quintessential music festival – the festival that brought together the greatest musical acts of the late 1960s with the counter-cultural generation. Every musical festival since aspires to be Woodstock-like (though sadly, most achieve the comparison only by being doused in rain and becoming mudpits as Woodstock famously did). As a current music-lover and festival-goer who is admittedly under-informed about a lot of the history of rock music and its place in culture at that time, I feel very grateful to Michael Wadleigh and others for preserving the event so well on film.
He begins with the festival set-up, interviewing the organizers as they supervise stages being built and fences being set up. The fences would quickly prove useless, as the crowd of young people entering the grounds from all directions more than doubled expectations; rather than hold off a quarter-million non-ticket-holders, the organizers decided to make the festival free and let everyone in. A pretty incredible situation compared to today’s tightly-secured festival grounds.