Woodstock Rocks and Rolls--on Time


Concertgoers strolled the fields naked, wearing tie-dye and getting high Friday like the let-it-all-hang-out generation before them, with one big difference: This Woodstock opened on time and fully wired.

About 75,000 people had arrived by the noon opening act at Woodstock '94, a local heavy metal band called Roguish Armament with Rekk.

In decibels and attitude, it was a far cry from Richie Havens, the folk singer who was the last-minute choice to open the original Woodstock 25 years ago because the sound system wasn't ready. He went on stage hours late.

"It's music history in the making. It's good to be a part of it," said Michael Link, 25, of Gore, Va., who doffed his shirt to show off his nipple ring.

Opening ceremonies included psychedelic artist Peter Max urging the crowd to behave since "the whole world is watching," and Mohawk Indians dancing and singing for peace, harmony and love.

Many in the mainly 20-something crowd harkened back to the free-spirited original Woodstock by walking around naked and smoking marijuana. Some skipped through a "misting machine," which released a shower of cool water. Others bathed at a bank of water faucets. "Crowd-surfers" were passed over the heads of the throng.

T-shirts advertised musical tastes from Nine Inch Nails and Metallica to Bob Marley and the Grateful Dead. Some people sat next to signs reading, "I need smoke" or "I Need a Dose."

Despite glitches that left some fans grumbling, authorities reported little trouble.

Early Friday evening, State Police ordered ticket sales suspended because of full parking lots, but promoters scrambled to find other lots and said ticket sales would resume. About 125,000 people had arrived by dusk.

Weekend performers include Joe Cocker, a veteran of the original Woodstock; Melissa Etheridge, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel.

Jesse James Dupree, lead singer of the heavy metal band Jackyl, got the show off to a rowdy start by lighting a wooden stool on fire, slicing it with a chain saw and letting his pants drop to his knees during a song about sex.

The first concertgoers faced long delays waiting for shuttle buses to take them from the parking lots because security bracelets hadn't arrived in time. Food concessions were initially closed because special tokens hadn't arrived.

Fans were also confused about where to camp, and tents sprouted like colorful mushrooms all over grassy fields of the 850-acre concert site.

Space already was growing tight by midafternoon. People hacked away brush in the woods to clear space for their tents. Foot traffic slowed to a crawl as people tried to inch their way through the throngs in front of the main stage.

Thousands were stuck in a logjam at a narrow bridge over a 15-foot-wide creek. People swung hand-over-hand across the scaffolding below the bridge to cross the stream, or tried to ford it on shaky logs. Many fell into the 2-foot-deep water.

State police said they were concerned that many fans hadn't been properly searched at a concert where booze, drugs and weapons were forbidden, but promoter John Scher said security was being tightened.

"It was a touch disorganized early on, but as time goes on, I think it's getting better," said Rick Flaherty of Washington. Flaherty, 40, had brought two of his children.

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