|The big question on everyone's minds right now is whether or not Axl Rose can get his act together in time for Woodstock '99 at Griffiss Park in Rome, New York July 23-25. The chances of the new Guns N' Roses apprearing on the already star-studded affair, which celebrates Woodstock's thirtieth anniversary, are now "50/50," according to Michael Lang, one of the concert's producers.
Agreeing that it would be quite the coup to land the highly sought-after act, Lang says, "It would depend on how well they are coming along with the recordings and whether they're ready to do it. They very much want to." If GNR don't make it, Lang says, "There are other things that we are considering, other special events whether or not Guns N' Roses comes in."
Those confirmed already are (in alphabetical order) Aerosmith, Bush, the Chemical Brothers, George Clinton, Collective Soul, Counting Crows, Creed, Sheryl Crow, DMX, Everlast, Fatboy Slim, Foo Fighters, Guster, Ice Cube, Jewel, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Live, Los Lobos, Dave Matthews Band, Metallica, moe., Alanis Morissette, Willie Nelson, the Offspring, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rusted Root, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Sugar Ray, and the Tragically Hip.
Lang says there will be other acts confirmed shortly as well, and that Hole, Underworld, and John Fogerty are still in negotiations, but that they are "likely" going to be on the bill. He expects even more hip-hop artists to join as well, and a total of 45 acts on three stages for the three days. Marilyn Manson was one name tossed around before, but Lang says the band is not on the bill... "not at the moment."
"It was definitely a challenge, but John [Scher, president of Metropolitan Entertainment] and I worked well together on it and there was a tremendous amount of interest and desire on the part of the bands to play," says Lang.
On the more eclectic nature of the roster compared to the 1994 show, Lang says, "Musical tastes today are more eclectic than they were five years ago. We felt it was important to be representative. We haven't finished the booking yet, there will be more acts added and there'll probably be more hip-hop. What we try to do is be very representative of the things that are important today, musically, and the things we think will be important tomorrow." However, many of the artists on the 1994 show (Live, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Metallica) are also on the '99 version.
A special Sunday night finale is also in the works with various artists, which Lang would only say is "something very special, very fitting, and hopefully we'll be able to put it together." A film festival is also in the works, which will include films from the '60s up until now. "It'll probably be experimental films, but it's just being fleshed out now," he says. The 12-foot Woodstock wall from 1994 is being taken out of storage as well, and will be updated with new additions from various artists.
Those fearing a parking disaster repeat of '94, need not worry. This time around, organizers have arranged for on-site parking to accomodate 60,000-70,000 cars, according to Lang. And those thinking they can simply jump the wall again to sneak in, had better think again as well -- a 12-foot plywood fence with steel girders around the entire perimeter of the venue will be erected and the number of security guards has increased as well to keep the expected 250,000 fans in line.
Individual tickets for the event cost $150, plus taxes and surcharges, and go on sale April 25 at 9 a.m. EST via Ticketmaster. Woodstock '99 air travel packages go on sale April 18 thorugh Target Sport Adventures (800.832.4242) or at www.targetsport.com. Bus packages including festival tickets start at $249.99 and go on sale April 18 at 9 a.m. EST.
Meanwhile, discussions for the pay-per-view television special, a television highlights special, an album and home video, and possibly a Webcast are underway.
For more information on Woodstock '99, check out www.woodstock.com.
-- Carrie Borzillo