Hours before the music even started on day two of Woodstock ’99, the sun beat down on the airstrips of Griffiss Air Force Base, elevating the temperatures into the ’90s. Luckily for the quarter of a million or so fans in attendance, the sweltering heat broke slightly by midday, but the afternoon performances kept the musical mercury elevated to the higher end of the scale.
Representing our relatively cooler brothers and sisters in the North, Canada’s the Tragically Hip employed a guitar zeitgeist to its set that seemed painfully appropriate (if derivative) of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” an album that was being pumped across the grounds as the early audience began arriving.
One of the longest running and most popular Canadian bands, the Tragically Hip sifted through its 16-year career for its opening set, including “New Orleans Is Sinking,” “Fully Completed,” and “Nautical Disaster” and promoted the kind of patriotic flag-waving you’d expect to see at the NHL All-Star
Wyclef then took similar liberties with his own material, transforming a brief version of “Gone ‘Til November” from a breakup song into an ode to marijuana. Amid snippets of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” Jean delivered a double-barreled tribute to Jimi Hendrix by playing a “Star Spangled Banner” guitar solo and literally setting his axe on fire, resulting in minor burns on two of ‘Clef’s fingers.
On the west stage, Everclear’s six-man live configuration took the stage in matching black suits and cowboy hats. The group rounded up a set that left frontman Art Alexakis gawking and saying that “this is the happiest day of my life” as the band played “El Distorto,” “Strawberry,” and “You Make Me Feel Like a Whore.”
After ripping through Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” (which the band covered for the “Detroit Rock City” flick) as well as a troika of its own hits, “I Will Buy You A New Life,” “Santa Monica,” and “Father
of Mine,” Everclear brought over fifty audience members onstage to dance through another soundtrack song, “Local God,” from “Romeo + Juliet.”
Unlike some of artists at Woodstock who chose to hang back, the Counting Crows moved its equipment forward ever so slightly, allowing them to play from the lip of the stage and for frontman Adam Duritz to ascend a monitor as if it were a podium or a pulpit, a fitting move for elegaic takes on “Around Here” and “A Long December.”
But the Crows are also capable of knocking out the kind of straightforward, no-nonsense rockers that have inspired groups such as the Wallflowers to ride its coattails, and Duritz whipped his dreadlocks in circles during “Angels of the Silences” and “Rain King.” The band then brought out the Gigolo Aunts to sing backup on a blistering new song, “Hanging Around,” which is the planned first single from the Crows’ next LP, due out in October.