Meet Me In The Bathroom: “Give me the streets of Manhattan”

Kristina Vazquez, Staff Reporter

Showtime Networks

          When people think “rock renaissance”, they think Elvis in the ‘50s, The Clash in ‘70s and ‘80s, but The Strokes in the 2000’s? Some might not think twice to look at NYC’s post-punk, garage rock revival in the aughts when pointing out a historical rock resurgence, but this film does. A documentary adaptation of the book “Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011” by Lizzie Goodman uncovers the history behind some of the big apple’s musical pioneers of the 21st century. 

          Grammy Nominees Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern’s film “Meet Me In The Bathroom” follows the early days of the careers of Manhattan-grown indie rock bands at the dawn of the new millennium. This intimate, found-footage documentary chronicles the lives of the artists behind the time-defining bands The Strokes, The Moldy Peaches, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, TV On The Radio, Liars, The Rapture, and LCD Soundsystem: a lineup of indie sleaze legends, who at the time couldn’t ever dream of being the stars of a renounced Sundance film. 

          “Meet Me” is an archive footage film, forged by the star musicians themselves. Some footage is taken, such as the footage from the unavoidable 9/11 storyline,clips of Courtney Love’s controversial MTV takeover, and obvious snippets from various music videos and professional recordings. This approach is interesting because it allows the viewers to see these musicians being themselves. From clips of the artists running around an empty airport, to goofing off in interviews with the one of the most popular musical interviewers, Nardwaur, the film captures the essence of the scene. 

          The film itself opens with a montage of short videos, swelling music, and a staticky phone-recorded voice over. All this of course is paired perfectly with shots of The Strokes’ frontman, Julian Casablancas, The Strokes’  guitarist, Albert Hammond, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ frontwoman, Karen O. Introducing us to the forgotten scene of crummy NYC dive bars and open mic nights is Moldy Peaches member Kimya Dawson, known most notably now for her work on the 2007 film “Juno” soundtrack, and her bandmate Adam Green. The almost dream-like narration makes the direction and target demographic the directors were shooting for more obvious than ever. It’s clear to see this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

          Aside from the post-shoegaze-high dreaminess of the film, also comes the more serious, inescapable reactions and aftermath to the events that occurred on 9/11. Interpol’s Paul Bank’s eerie stroll through the rubble and Kimya Dawson’s ghostly ballad detailing the grief brought about by the attacks define the other side of indie sleaze scene: the tortured, battered side. Tough times are mentioned more than not in the forms of addiction, recovery, and the perils of fame. Humanity is given back to the performers; something any good documentary should strive to accomplish. 

           Karen O sums up the attitude of the times the best in two words: “ravenous fanaticism.” Though maybe a little repetitive at times, the story telling abilities of the artists convey the message of the music and the culture as a whole. An entire rock revolution was condensed into something inspiring and more importantly, real.

          The film is a journey in and of itself, but one that seems to be cut short. My advice is that you’ll probably only really enjoy this film if you enjoy these bands. It’s one of those where you need to have a pre-existing interest in the scene to get into it, if not you’ll probably end up confused and with lingering questions. If you do have an affinity for Julian Casablancas though, as most people in the indie subculture do, it’ll knock your socks off. The grainy camera quality alone is enough to transport you back to the Lower East Side where it all began. 


“Meet Me In The Bathroom — 3 stars (out of 4) 

MPA rating: Unrated 

Running time: 1hr 52min 

How to watch: Youtube Premium, Paramount+, Showtime, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video