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The Us Festival Lives On In New Documentary

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Us Festival at the time was referred to as "The Woodstock of the 80s" - yet ironically many do not remember this colossal California festival that took place Labor Day Weekend of 1982. That may soon change as award winning filmmaker and rockumentarian Glenn Aveni with Co-Director Jay Cederholm along with Bruce Gibb and Rich Schmig release The Us Festival: 1982 The US Generation (MVD ENT) on Blu-Ray + DVD.


The authorized story of the 1982 Us Festival features remastered live performances from The Police, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Santana, The Cars, The B-52s and more. In addition to classic footage of famous bands the documentary explains how the dream of the Festival became a reality despite the logistical nightmare that a concert of this caliber could be. The Us Festival was state of the art for its time and would set high standards for future multi-day events.

The film blends rare live footage and insightful interviews with both organizers and performers from the first of two Us Festivals. Both were epic three-day concerts showcasing the top acts of the day who were paid top dollar to perform live at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, CA. The venue was built especially for the Us Festival which drew hundreds of thousands and for many groups it would be the biggest audience they had ever played to.

Other highlights of the documentary include archived appearances by Johnny & Joey Ramone, Carlos Santana, Sting, Ric Ocasek, Danny Elfman, and Fred Schneider; plus exclusive sit-downs with festival founder Steve Wozniak, Mick Fleetwood, Eddie Money, Marky Ramone, Kate Pierson, Stewart Copeland, and Mickey Hart, among others.

The Us Festival was the brainchild of Apple visionary Steve Wozniak (Woz), who wanted to create something that was a true celebration of Americana, cultivating positive vibes while building a deep sense of community through the power of technology and music. In addition to live performances the Us Festival also had a technology tent were the latest in computers, games and tech were on display. For Woz the sky was the limit in regards to the Us Festival. He hooked up with the legendary concert promoter Bill Graham who secured the top-tier talent. Woz also obtained support from county and local authorities who in turned agreed to build an off-ramp to the Festival in an effort to avoid the traffic that Woodstock was known for. In many ways Woodstock (1969) was used as a model of what not to do.

Comfort was key at the Us Festival. Woz made sure there was access to facilities, food and water. They even had set-up hydration systems which was a good thing as temperatures ended up in the 100's during the first event. The Us Festival was also on the cutting edge of concert technology using delay sound systems to insure that folks far from the stage could hear the music just as well as those who were close. Big screens along with video feeds were new innovations that would soon become the norm in the future.

The Us Festival: 1982 The US Generation was a fascinating look at the countless details of planning multi day concerts. For the MTV generation the youthful live footage of bands such as the now classic rock outfit The Police is worth the price of admission and if you are among those who actually attended "The Woodstock of the 80's" this documentary is a must have for your collection.

Although Woz lost a lot of money on both Us Festivals he still considered his concerts a success because they were fun, well-organized events that for at least three days "united us in song." In the documentary Woz explains how important music is to him. He shared that as he was building computers music was on in the background.

He mentioned liking the hippy ethos but at that time he was already grounded in computers. Some joke that for Steve the Us Festivals were the most expensive backstage passes ever but for Woz money was and is still no object and with the 50th anniversary of Woodstock coming in 2019, one can wonder if Woz has an interest in sponsoring another Festival. If he can step away from the Segway for a moment, or better yet incorporate that futuristic vehicle into the next fest - there's really no better time for Us - and on that I think he'd agree.




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