Red Hot Chili Peppers, Collective Soul, Sevendust Witness Woodstock's Fiery End

By mid-Sunday, the calming effect of performances by artists such as Everlast, Mike Ness, and Elvis Costello had helped to counterbalance Saturday night's metal-fueled mayhem, restoring some semblance of normalcy to the scene at Woodstock '99. But during the last few hours of the three-day concert event, something went inexplicably wrong as concertgoers set fires and wreaked destructive havoc across the compound following the Red Hot Chili Peppers' closing set.

Earlier Sunday evening on the west stage, the vibe grew more intense (but strictly in the musical sense) as Sevendust and Collective Soul, two bands from the metro-Atlanta area, made their case for the current state of Southern rock, a notion that typically conjures up images of bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers.

Sevendust smashed any such Southern-fried misconceptions with a breakthrough set which conjured up comparisons to Green Day's performance at Woodstock II in 1994. After stints on last year's Ozzfest

and this summer's Warped Tour, the group has built up a reputation for its thunderous live show, and it drew one of the largest crowds of the weekend to the west stage.

Careening through a set of mostly new material from its forthcoming sophomore album, Sevendust did reach back to pay homage to its heritage and influences by incorporating a few bars of Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Pantera's "Walk" into the coda of its driving "Too Close To Hate."

Free candles that had been passed out to the crowd during the day were lit and held aloft, transforming the audience into a sea of lights for a rather nonplussed version of "Under the Bridge." But by the time the Chili Peppers' set reached its tail end, more than a half-dozen fires were raging near the east stage, with the largest shooting 10-15 feet in the air (see "UPDATE: Flames, Looting, Violence Mar Woodstock Finale").

The band left the stage as organizers tried to get fire

teams to the scene, but before any assistance had arrived , the Peppers returned to the stage, with Kiedis commenting, "It looks like 'Apocalypse Now' out there."

The Peppers ducked backstage and returned a few moments later for an incredibly inappropriate (though utterly Jungian) cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire," which the band had already planned to play as part of a tribute in honor of the legendary guitarist.

A silly, anti-climactic laser show tribute to Hendrix followed the conclusion of the Chilis' set, signaling the musical end of Woodstock '99. But the fires continued to rage on and grow out of control, eventually spreading to the vendor tents as thousands of concertgoers rioted across the grounds in what may become the biggest public concert disaster in recent memory.