Korn's Jonathan Davis opens up on the chaos of Woodstock '99: "when you see it with your own eyes, it is ten times more shocking"

Korn's Jonathan Davis plays the bagpipes at Woodstock 1999
(Image credit: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect via Getty)

Korn frontman Jonathan Davis has opened up on witnessing first-hand the chaos of Woodstock '99, one of the most infamous music festivals of all time. Taking place over four days in July 1999, the event was put on to mark the 30th anniversary of the original Woodstock and featured a stacked bill that included Metallica, Rage Against The Machine, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many more.

While the festival was sold as an attempt to recapture the spirit of its 1969 namesake and featured personnel involved in the original Woodstock, scorching weather, little shade, expensive refreshments and overwhelmed facilities turned an initially fun atmosphere ugly, resulting in scenes of vandalism, violence, sexual assault and the death of three people.

New Netflix documentary Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 delves into the problems that faced the festival from early on, attempting to unwrap the issue of how things got so bad in the first place. One of the people interviewed for the documentary is Jonathan Davis, who admits he was overwhelmed when walking out on stage to kick off Korn's set on Woodstock's East Stage on the Friday night. By the time Korn hit the stage, tensions were already rising across the festival, and one of the weekend's biggest crowds had gathered to see the nu metal giants.

"I remember the intro," he notes. "We're walking out, I come walking out and I see that fucking crowd. I'm like, 'What the flying fuck?'"

"When you see it with your own eyes," he adds of the sheer volume and energy of the crowd that night, "it's just ten times more shocking."

Footage in the documentary shows a bewildered-looking Davis taking in the gigantic gathering of people in front of him before the band launch into a blistering Blind.

"And I look over," Davis continues, "and I see just waves as the sound traveled all the way to the back...there's no drug, there's no nothing on this planet that can give you that fucking feeling of having a crowd in your hand like that." 

"I felt like I did something really incredible," Davis later adds. "We kicked that ass." 

While Korn's incendiary set allowed a frustrated crowd to release a lot of energy, it was already clear that the festival was not equipped to deal with the growing issues around the site - and things would soon explode in the aftermath of Limp Bizkit's infamous set on the same stage the following day.

Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 is out now on Netflix.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.