ROME, N.Y. - Ex-Who bassist John Entwistle, who led his John Entwistle Band through a set of Who songs Sunday afternoon (July 25), is one of only two veterans of the original Woodstock to return for the festival's 1999 edition.
But he doesn't think it's such a big deal.
"Well, it means that I'm still alive," Entwistle said backstage after playing the festival's indoor emerging-artists stage, of all places. "Actually, it probably means we're the only two who were stupid enough to come back."
The other original Woodstock veteran to make it back was ex-Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, who performed with his band Planet Drum on the west stage Saturday.
Entwistle said it never occurred to him that he'd return to play another Woodstock.
"I didn't think there'd be another one, actually," he said.
Though the Who's ferocious set at Woodstock, during which they played several songs from their rock opera Tommy (1969), helped lift the British Invasion band to superstar status, Entwistle said he remembers the concert as a hellish experience.
"We were supposed to go on at 6 p.m. and we went on at 6 the next morning," he said. "Before that, we spent five hours driving in to the site because all the helicopters were being used. It was 19 hours of hell."
During the Who's 12-hour wait, Entwistle drank a Coke that had been poured over LSD-dosed ice. "I had an acid trip backstage, passed out and woke up a half-hour before we were supposed to go on," he said.
His Woodstock '99 set was far less traumatic, Entwistle said, even if he and a large segment of the audience were left with ringing ears from his band's fierce performance of "Had Enough", "Heaven and Hell," "My Wife", "The Real Me" and other Who songs. He and his band also re-created the nearly metallic live sound of Live at Leeds-era Who on three cover songs associated with the band: "Summertime Blues", "Shaking All Over" and "Young Man Blues".
Many of the 200 or so fans in front of the indoor stage played air guitar and wore wide grins as Entwistle played.
"My dad listens to the Who - but this was definitely good," Rochester, N.Y., resident Nate Halstead, 22, said.
Besides the John Entwistle Band, the emerging-artists stage, run by the website Amp3.com, also hosted such artists as the Supersuckers and Ben Lee.