As many years as I’ve blogged (off and on, not consistently I fear), it’s amazing to me some time to look back on memories that I was sure I blogged and discover, nope I didn’t. It’s like my memories are somehow now in text form even if they aren’t?!
Take today, I was reminded of Silverchair playing at Rockfest at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1999. I was sure I remembered writing about the day I spent there and then I look at my blog and the first entry is two years later.
I honestly don’t go see a ton of live acts, for some reason, I’m usually content to hearing their music recorded, but there are a handful of bands I love enough to see over and over and then there were chances in Atlanta like the one-off Rockfest and the much-missed Music Midtown where anyone who liked music should have been there. I mean, one ticket got you in to see a ton of acts. In the case of Rockfest, it was one popular act behind another, each playing short sets. It was the only time I saw many of these bands.
- Taxi Drive
- Marvelous 3
- Better than Ezra
- Sugar Ray
- Mighty Mighty Bosstones
- Eve 6
- Collective Soul
- The Offspring
I have vivid memories of seeing most of those acts as I got there quite early and secured a place right on the barricade separating the crowd (approx 130,000 people) from the stage. It was June in Georgia, even North Georgia is miserably hot in the open with no shade. It wasn’t long before people were passing out from the heat and being hefted over the barricades to the security guys. And shortly, the hoses came out. As I wear glasses, the last thing I normally want is to be wet, but I remember happily taking one water blast to the face after another. I have never been so hot, wet, and muddy yet happy to be there.
This is the only video I uncovered from the show. If you watch carefully, you’ll even see them blasting the people down front with the hoses! Alas, I didn’t spot Mark of a decade ago hugging the front line!
It’s funny that I did dig through old emails and found the following in a message to a friend. So maybe my memories about ‘blogging’ it was simply writing about it in emails:
…went to Rockfest at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the early summer. It was HOT and WET (because they kept spraying the hose on us). I was on my feet for over 12 hours near the stage. You couldn’t leave and ever get back. I was one of the mud people. They actually showed this concert on MTV tho I only saw a few minutes of it myself. It’s very possible I could have been on TV because I was down front where the cameras were when they showed the crowd. I left sunburned and tired. Actually I saw the last three acts from the stands because I just couldn’t stand anymore. The only one of those three I regretted not being down there for was Live.
So, there we go from the way-back machine! I had totally forgotten that I wasn’t down front for Live, but I do remember that I retired to the bleachers and then actually left part way through The Offspring. They were playing songs from their then newest album that hardly anyone had heard yet. I won’t forget the walk back to the parking lot as I had made the mistake of taking off my wet shoes in the stadium while seated. Between wet shoes and swollen feat from standing so long, they wouldn’t begin to go back on. Barefoot on a gravel parking lot does not equal fun!
Though an exhausting day, it was great fun! Happy Memories from those first years living in the big city! And now I’ve blogged it so a few years from now when the cobwebs are cobwebier I’ll have this to remind me.
Note: I’ve recently found a few more videos. Alas I still haven’t found me in the crowd! But they definitely rustled some memories of the concert. If anyone finds some other Atlanta Rockfest videos or wants to share photos or what not to post here, please send me a message.
Looking For Photos?
I’ve recently heard from a photographer (see comments section) who was shooting at Rockfest. If you’d like to see photos from the day and maybe just maybe find yourself in the crowd, check out @orockphotos on Instagram. Also lots of cool photos from other concerts! I’m enjoying them all but if you want to zero in on just photos from this concert you’re looking for tag #rockfestatlanta99
i was at rockfest with some friends and just posted a few pics on FB my timeline should be there for you to see them. cool reading your blog tho Im a little late.
I was there…and found myself in the crowd during the Silverchair segment! It was an awesome time! Those were the good ol days…
Best Concert in my life. I was 19. Just graduated from HS. Made out with 2 lesbians. So much pot around. Life was great
Barry I wanna see those pics! I was there the whole time standing in my little 6 pack cooler and didn’t move. I didn’t want to loose my spot near the stage. I had the great view of all the hooter flash😄 How do I find your FB page pics?
I was one of the mud people too. I went with two friends of mine, all three of us girls. We wouldn’t move either, but we did get pushed back during Live. We were so wet and muddy I remember taking off most of our clothes in the parking lot before riding back to Alpharetta. It was a wonderful day. Everlast did suck though. Sugar Ray was on stage at 4:20 also. And I am so greatful for the water hoses.
Thanks for reminding me of such a great concert!! It was awesome!! By far my favorite line up to date!!
Funny, ten years later I didn’t expect even a handful of comments on this post. Glad everyone has enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Definitely one of my fond memories, too!
how can i send you the few pics i have now?
I was there and loved it we traveled 5 hours to get there the night before and stayed with my buddy that lived in atl. One of the best concerts i have been to!
Searching for stuff in 2018 & see you have comments from 2012. Haha. Nice. I was one of the mud people too. The mosh pit was great too. Ended up at the front pretty much the whole time. I didnt have a camera so if yall did I would love to see some pictures.
When I blogged this years after the fact, I never expected this to become a regularly visited post on my blog. it’s always fun to hear from other “mud people” who were there then too. Almost 20 years later, I don’t think I could do this again. Live music sure, stand in the hot sun and mud, I’d love to say yes, but I suspect I’d run for the stadium long before I did back then. But it made for fun and happy memories.
On photos (did I respond to that comment from Barry in an email years ago??) if someone actually wants me to post their photos from the event on this blog, I’d be happy to. I don’t have any of my own and if I had brought a camera it would have been soaked but I wish I had somehow recorded it in photos myself. Just send me a message through my contact form and I’ll reply back with an email to send them to. For obvious reasons, I don’t want to post my email address here.
HELL’$ YEAH , let’s do it again , and again and make it a festival that will continue to live on generation after generation , or not , let’s make Don Kirshner proud and let the music PLAY …
OMG how crazy! I was there from Myrtle Beach SC I had a roadie friend that got us backstage crew passes (my sis and I) we met EVERYONE!!! I remember going up on the stage (stage left if your facing the stage)and we walked up some random ramps and climbed a little ladder like deal to access what was metal bleachers that were built up into the metal rafters of the stage! It was crazy and the view was INSANE!!! I don’t recall what shows we watched from up there but I was able to stumble back and forth because of my crew pass. I drank a lot back then and I remember the singer from eve 6 was in front of me and my drunk arse found it to be a good idea to sing his song and tap on him annoyingly thinking I was cool or something. How EMBARRASSING!!! I’m sure he was annoyed with me as I would have been! Anywho I had TONS of great pictures but unfortunately lost them when I lost my storage moving from SC to CA. Only one I have left is a copy of my little sister and I with sugar ray. Still a good one we were crispy from the sun! I remember it was so hot walking around on the concrete backstage that I literally had blisters on my scalp! BLISTERS!!! And I wouldn’t change it for the world!!! Thanks for the memories!
I was there, too! We sat up in the shade of the Weaver grandstands(where a breeze blew between rows) until the sun got lower, then we walked around in the crowd.
We got there abot an hour after gates opened and the medical tent was already so full they had to stage people outside!
Was wondering how many of those Gibson flying ???? were given away? Thxs Terry Wright.
I drove down from Virginia for this concert. When Sugar Ray came on my buddy Cory did such a drunken/stoned dance MTV filmed him and it was actually played on MTV. Ahh the memories.
Maybe you can help me I was there with four other friends me and my girlfriend were in the Atlanta Journal from photo AP press as a photo for being there I’m looking for that photo
I can’t directly but I do see the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an option for getting copies of past articles and photos on their site. See this link
No idea about what they charge, but hopefully that will help you find it.
Additionally if anyone wants to leave a comment to help Robert, please feel free to comment or send me a message and I can relay any information to Robert.
I came across this while trying to find info on another festival later that year (99x Big Day Out at Lakewood Amphitheatre). Rockfest was my first festival. I went with two friends and left them when they didn’t want to head to the front. I was a mud person off and on through the day and don’t remember exactly when I gave up, just that it was night time, I was a few rows from the front, and the crowd surged and I was literally swept off my feet. Without anything to ground me I couldn’t keep from being completely squished to the point of being unable to breathe and I had to be pulled out. Still don’t regret it. (But I do regret the long walk to the car in soaking wet jeans once I found my friends after it was over. I lost many layers of skin) Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
I tell the story of how the whole crowd fell over—just before Offspring played—all the time! It was something I’d never seen happen before. Sorry u got hurt. It really was an unforgettable day.
I am always amazed but happy that so many find their way here who attended that same muddy concert! LOL
I never made it to any of the 99X Big Day Outs as far as I can remember. I did do some of their “On The Bricks” shows but right now I’m drawing a blank who I saw just remember walking from Centennial to a Marta station to catch a train after and the whole train being packed with people from the same concert. I walked down to one of the lower stations and every time we stopped at stations a few blocks up the platform was crowded and the train was already full.
Wow, it just occurred to me that Rockfest 1999 will shortly be 20 years ago! Yoiks!
It looks like this was on June 5, 1999. So the 20th is a few months away!
Wow! Thank you Mark for this site! I was a freelance photojournalist in Atlanta mid 90s to 2002 and covered a lot of concerts including the 99 Rockfest. I remember they had us up on a riser that went across the front of the stage, photographers on the left, video crews across the front and right facing the stage.
I shot a lot of photos of the crowd. (Well, a lot for film). If you were front and center, I probably have photos. I am planning on posting some on my IG @ orockphotos but was researching first which is how I ended up here. 🙂 You rock Mark! Hope you are in my pics so I can send you one.
Awesome – I’ll add a link to your Instagram in the post so people who want to see photos can find you. It might help to create a tag just for the event so they can quickly find the photos from Atlanta Rockfest? Let me know if you do and I’ll include what tag to look for in the post.
I was there still one of the best concerts I’ve been too I was 16 me and 4 of my friends went to it wish I still had pictures of it me and my friend met some Russian girls there. We got there right front for silverchair
Today is 20 years ago that Rockfest occurred! TWENTY YEARS!!! Can you believe it? I had just moved to Atlanta that January and my best friend from back where I used to live, my stepsister, and her friend flew in just for this. We had an ABSOLUTE blast. We were NOT mud people though. I remember thinking it wasn’t too unbearably hot for Atlanta in June (it could have been much worse) – but then again, I was away from the stage and sprawled out on a blanket. I do recall making use of some misting tents at one point.
I need to find a working scanner and scan in the pictures we took that day. I still have the lanyard thing they were giving out that listed all the bands.
It was seriously one of the best concert days of my life (and I go to many, many, many concerts). One of my friends who went (though we didn’t know each other at the time) and I always lament that they never did another Rockfest in Atlanta.
I was there. Tell my kids about it regularly. We had a 91 chevy blazer full of people, and 2 more cars i believe. Left home around 4 am, got there around 7 am. We hit the stands after i stepped on a lit cigarette barefoot. SugarRay was playing. I recall 2 kids in front of us when The Offspring came on, they couldnt have been more than 9 years old. They started jumping and cheering as soon as Offspring started, and didnt quit till they were done. My car load got seperated from the rest. Blazer started running funny around College Park, and I had just enough money for 1 room at hampton in, 6 ppl. So sun burnt. Got up the next morning and didnt stop driving till we made it to my house, where the blazer finally died, blew the motor. Ive been to so many concerts, but Rockfest ’99 was by far best line up, and amazing experience!
That was the greatest summer ever and RockFest was the centerpiece. I went with two of my neighborhood friends. Nick and I were 16 and I think Tim didn’t even turn 15 until the following month. My dad drove us and picked us up since he finally convinced my mom that I was old enough to go to a concert without a chaperone. (He didn’t know about Silverchair at the Roxy a few months earlier and still doesn’t.) We got there super early – at least an hour before Taxi Ride (the first band) started playing and maybe even before the gates officially opened. In anticipation of Silverchair – the 2nd of 3 times I saw them that year – Nick and I started moving toward the stage while Tim decided to stay and enjoy from the blanket and cheap lawn chairs that my parents never got back (lol). It worked for all of us because we knew where to regroup if we got separated, which obviously happened.
By the time M3 and BTE had finished, we were already up against the barricade before SC started playing and by then the first bowl from the Taxi Ride set had completely worn off. It was sooo hot and the lack of personal space didn’t help matters. (Plus I had cottonmouth and slept maybe 3 hours the previous night.) I wouldn’t be able to do it now, but being teens I can’t say it bothered us that much. Anyway, Silverchair’s set is now immortalized on YouTube because somebody bought the video footage not along ago which had been discovered at an estate sale. Watched it for the first time last night hoping I’d be able to spot Nick and me, but I’ve never been lucky with these kinds of things. Still, the admittedly hazy memories started flooding back…
I think Eve 6 played next and we stayed up front for that, but then halfway through Sugar Ray’s set I started to get a little bored and plus I knew it was about time to start thinking about food and a bathroom trip, so I climbed over the railing. Holy shit was the bouncer ever pissed at me! Hahah. I didn’t care though. Didn’t see any other way to get out even though Nick said he made it back through the crowd just fine.
I forget what we had to eat, but I remember during the Bosstones set Nick doing this little ska dance like the guy on the stage while he was taking a joint hit and I was laughing hysterically. Eventually Nick’s girlfriend and her friends paged him from a payphone (wow, that made me feel old!) and we all spent the rest of the night getting high from the muddy blanket while watching/listening to Live and Collective Soul’s sets. Beautiful experience to say the least. We left during The Offspring since we didn’t care about them that much and to beat traffic and we were reallly hungry. I think my dad stopped at Taco Bell for us and I hate Taco Bell now but I remember it never tasted so good.
Epilogue: It was my 2nd show ever without chaperones (1st if you know my parents!) and hundreds & hundreds more were soon to follow, but in terms of pure experience it’s hard to beat Rockfest. Thanks for the blog!
I was there. One of my friends had talked to a PR company for Third Eye Blind prior to the concert and we were given backstage passes in exchange for getting people to fill out some stupid survey. It was worth. Spent some time hard adding people to fill out the survey but then was backstage with Ed from Collective Soul and the guy from Eve 6 right next to us. We didn’t know it until they were called out by whoever was performing to join them. It’s been so long I don’t even remember who it was.
Oh man — I was just thinking about Rockfest the other day and found this. I was there with a few friends. We were all 15, and fairly new to concerts. Learned a lot of valuable lessons that day involving the importance of sunscreen and never underestimating the ability of gross old men to be complete pigs to girls young enough to be their granddaughters.
22 years later- I saw someone post something on FB today about Collective Soul and thought I’d look up the funnest, muddiest music festival I’ve been to! I remember Live performing Lightning Crashes … I was 19…. I got chills, I got testy eyed…. And as everyone in the crowd sung the chorus I realized in the moment how big this world really is… and how powerful it can be when we all come together. Thank you for writing this. ❤️
Myself and three of my friends drove up from Montgomery Al and we were initially front and center about 10 feet from the fence. When the mosh pit got going full on we got pushed back some….maybe 25-30 feet from the front. My sister and her husband left after she got kicked in the head but me and my buddy rocked out. I’m fairly certain that one of my Timberlands is still in the ground! Eventually we got separated. I had all the cash and my sister drove. They went for cash and the car got moved! Eventually I found my buddy and eventually we saw my brother in law and sister driving in the parking lot looking for us! LOL It was a great show and I have fond memories! Hard to believe this was 22 years ago!!!