ROME, N.Y. The scene was the rave tent at Woodstock '99 at
1 a.m. Saturday (July 24). The man of the moment was Moby. Unlike the
other DJs in the house, he had a band.
Moby was performing in an aircraft hangar that serves as the festival's
emerging artists stage during the day. The Connecticut native, a
leading DJ in Britain and the U.S., devoted his portion of the rave to a
performance by his band, featuring a platinum-tressed bassist and a
keyboardist with orange hair.
He greeted the audience by saying, "My name is Moby," and spent the next
hour singing songs such as "Honey" (RealAudio excerpt),
from his new album, Play.
"Thanks to everybody for staying up so late to come and see us and for
putting up with all this garbage," Moby (born Richard Melville Hall)
said. He was referring to the enormous amount of trash that accumulated
on Griffiss Air Force base during Woodstock '99.
In the early morning hours, before Moby took the helm, strangers in
various states of undress moonwalked, breakdanced and literally dueled
each other with their bodies as they grooved face to face. One guy
danced as he videotaped his partner.
Images from the day's events flashed on monitors. New York DJ Liquid
Todd spun monotone dance music that kept thousands of fans, many of whom
had been up since the previous morning, spinning around the room as they
watched their favorite bands.
A long-haired guy dressed from head to toe in white underwear riddled by
about 100 holes danced with an imaginary partner. Joe Yarborough, 27,
mesmerized his fellow Woodstockers with a masterful breakdancing
interlude, during which his arms and legs moved so fast they became a blur.
"I've been doing [breakdancing] since I was a little kid," Yarborough
said. "Everybody in my neighborhood in Detroit did."
On two giant screens, lights pulsated with geometric shapes that created
a dizzying environment as revelers bounced off one another. Slogans
such as "Birth is decay ... this decay is birth" flashed randomly.
When it was his turn, Moby played guitar, jumped, kicked his legs and
shook his bald head at the foot of the stage, as the crowd tossed rubber
balls around. He dedicated his set to "anyone who has ever stayed out
till 4 a.m. dancing."
Moby sang his 1993 single "I Feel It" to loud cheers, as dancers stage
right flailed around with baby-bottle nipples in their mouths. He shouted
"lift yourself to heaven" over a track that featured shrieks and echo
effects that brought to mind performance artist Yoko Ono.
Most of the crowd seemed unfazed by the band.
"We just like to dance," 24-year-old Lisa Flesher of Long Island, N.Y.,
said. "This music is good, though," her friend Tiffany Rothstein added.
"I have no idea how you are all still awake, but I'm very glad you are,"
Moby told the crowd with a big smile.
Earlier in the day, Moby said Woodstock "has resonated through my life.
I grew up watching the movie and I have the double album," he said,
referring to the recorded documents of the original Woodstock festival.
"It was a very dominant cultural motif."
He praised the weekend's lineup but said that if he had put the event
together, he would have eased up on the hard rock and added more
eclectic acts. Two of his favorite artists in the lineup, Moby said, are
country artist Willie Nelson and funk pioneer George Clinton.