“We saw everything catching on fire”: Mark Tremonti on leaving the chaos of Woodstock ‘99

The festival intended to emulate the calmer vibes of Woodstock ‘69, but took a disastrous turn.

Mark Tremonti on stage playing guitar. He has a grey-coloured PRS model and is wearing all black. He is playing high up on the fretboard close to the body.

Image: Chiaki Nozu / Getty

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Guitarist Mark Tremonti has reflected on what it was like to play at the infamous Woodstock ‘99 music festival, which saw mass crowds descend into utter chaos.

Tremonti attended the festival to play as part of Creed, who took to the East Stage at the event on its final night, but made a swift exit before mass fires began to break out during the closing set of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The festival went down in history for its many disasters, including sexual harassment and rapes, rioting, looting, vandalism, arson, violence, and even several deaths. The festival was also explored in a Netflix docuseries in 2022, featuring interviews from artists who played at the event and those who worked behind the scenes.

In the new print issue of Metal Hammer as part of a Life Lessons feature, Tremonti remembers how the band left the festival shortly after their set when the Red Hot Chili Peppers came to wrap up the event.

“Woodstock ‘99 was definitely not a ‘Let’s relive the original Woodstock days’ kind of show – it was just a big festival with a bunch of modern rock bands that had more of an aggressive feel to it,” he begins.

“We drove in just a couple of hours before we hit the stage. It was a great show with a massive audience and a very receptive crowd. I remember walking to the stage and I walked by [singer/songwriter] Jewel and I was like, ‘This is cool.’ But then the Red Hot Chili Peppers came on and our tour manager was like, ‘Hey guys, let’s get out of here, because after Chili Peppers is going to be a mass exodus.’

“We got in the van, which had a TV, and we were watching the show as we were driving away, and we saw everything catching on fire. I don’t regret playing the festival, though – it was one of those moments I’ll never forget,” he adds.

Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99, the documentary, is streaming now on Netflix. Creed are due to tour in 2024, and you can view the full list of tour dates via SongKick.

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