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Meet Me In The Bathroom ★★★★



Director(s): Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern, Andrew Cross

Release Date: 10th March 2023

New York City has been the birthplace of many of America’s defining musical acts, from Simon & Garfunkel & The Velvet Underground to Talking Heads and Blondie. The 21st Century saw the arrival of a new wave of acts from the city that took the Indie world by storm, led by The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Based on Lizzy Goodman’s acclaimed 2017 book, Meet Me In The Bathroom captures the rise of several prominent New York-based Indie acts from the early 00s, showing what made the era so ripe for creativity and what made these groups stand out and still have staying power 20 years later.

First and foremost, the film excels at capturing New York in the early 00s and late 90s, delving into the wider music scene of the time and in its under two-hour runtime, giving us a feel for many of the bands featured, charting their journeys. The archive footage and interviews seamlessly shift from The Strokes to LCD Soundsystem, TV On Radio and Interpol, giving each a moment in the spotlight. However, it is perhaps fair to say The Strokes and Yeh Yeah Yeahs feature most prominently.

Similarly to The Velvet Underground documentary from 2021, there are no traditional interviews here with voiceover showing events as depicted. One of the more exciting segments is focused on Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O and her struggles as a woman in a Rock band at that moment in time and trying to be someone she was not. This, coupled with the weight of expectation on The Strokes as they recorded their second album, Room on Fire, shows the pressure that came with success and how big the groups got.

The film, as with the book, captures how the mood in the city shifted post 9/11 and how much of the euphoria of the millennium seeped away, and it does capture some of the key events that shaped the city throughout the 2000s that influenced many of its bands.

It’s fantastic to hear some of the most iconic tracks from the era, like Maps, Reptilia and Last Nite, loud. Perhaps one drawback is the more limited focus of the documentary; focused as it is on the heyday of the New York indie scene, we don’t quite see the trajectory it underwent, and the focus of the film is a bit narrower than that of the book which included later acts like Vampire Weekend.

Beyond fans of the genre and some of the acts featured, the film may have less appeal. Still, it is a fascinating, chaotic glimpse at a genre at its peak with some thrilling concert footage and some intriguing tidbits about each of the groups featured, giving us a feel of who the people are beyond their media personas and how groups with similar musical stylings can differ so drastically when it comes to their personality. This film highlights the wealth of talent operating in the early 2000s indie scene and some acts that have not had enough credit in the years since.

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