Connect with us
Meet Me in the Bathroom
image: Sundance Film Festival

Film

Meet Me in the Bathroom Remembers New York’s Last Great Rock Era 

Sundance 2022: Meet Me in the Bathroom 

I should be close to the target audience for Meet Me in the Bathroom, the new documentary from directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace about the rock scene in New York City in the early 2000s, in which the main bands were The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Moldy Peaches and Interpol.  

I lived in New York at the time in question and liked a lot of that music, especially the Strokes. I didn’t go to many rock shows, although I did see The Strokes at least twice, including with The White Stripes at Radio City Music Hall. 

That particular genre didn’t really have an official name; it was sometimes called “post-punk,” or “post-alternative,” or “DIY,” but none of that quite fit. But that music all added up to a very specific epoch from which a lot of great music was made, recalling for many the grunge era that exploded from Seattle about a decade prior. The difference was, the music didn’t cross over nearly as much into the mainstream, and the era lasted a remarkably short time, straddling a year or two on either side of the 9/11 attacks. 

The Meet Me in the Bathroom documentary, based on Lizzy Goodman’s book-length oral history of the same name, offers a lot to enjoy for those who remember those days, but it’s also a bit of disappointment. This is mostly because it sticks to a found-footage, all-archival format, the sort of thing that works a lot of the time, but isn’t really right for this. A more conventional approach, featuring contemporary on-camera interviews with all involved, might have actually been preferable, for once. 

I think Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground, last year, spoiled us, in its masterful use of archival footage in a documentary about a short-lived New York rock scene of the past. That film found a very inventive way to put the footage together, while this one is more pedestrian in its editing and footage selection. 

Last year’s Woodstock ’99 documentary had as its subtext that the music that was popular at the time self-evidently sucked. Meet Me in the Bathroom examines the music that emerged just a short time later. But I give it credit for looking honestly at why this era didn’t last and why the Strokes, in particular, never took that next big step. It was some glorious music, although sadly most of it didn’t have staying power. 

What I remember from that era was that the Strokes and White Stripes were both contemporaries and essentially neck-and-neck for a time. And while the White Stripes broke through around the same time and performed in New York fairly often, they were from Michigan, and therefore not considered part of the scene (or the documentary.) Since “Seven Nation Army” is played in football and soccer stadiums around the world, their music has endured much more than that of any of the other bands featured here. 

The documentary’s most compelling figure, by far, is Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O, a biracial New Jersey girl who came to New York and became the one major female figure in that scene. 

Begins and ends with Walt Whitman poetry, over city footage- almost the same conceit as a series of famous Levi’s commercials from the late aughts (which were directed, it turns out, by Cary Fukunaga.) But aside from that, the film is relatively uninteresting visually. 

The two directors previously made a concert documentary, Shut Up and Play the Hits, about the “final” concert of the band LCD Soundsystem and the decision by its frontman James Murphy to step away; that retirement, like most in music, proved temporary. There’s a lot of Murphy and LCD here as well, even though I never really associated that band with this particular scene. Also on camera? Ryan Adams, the since-disgraced singer-songwriter, whose most famous song during that period was about his decision to leave New York.  

If this particular music means anything to you, you should see this film once it becomes widely available; there was no word out of Sundance on distribution, but it would seem a perfect fit for HBO Max’s Music Box series. Even so, Meet Me in the Bathroom should have been a lot better. 

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will be held January 20-30 online and on Satellite Screens across the United States. For more info, please visit the official website.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. mincon

    January 29, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    We get it. You are a White Stripes (vastly inferior band) fan. If you had even basic knowledge of The Strokes, YYYs, Interpol, and LCD, then you would know that they are currently selling out arenas and headlining festivals worldwide. That’s called “staying power,“ amigo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches of All time Greatest Royal Rumble Matches of All time

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

Wrestling

The Last of Us Infected The Last of Us Infected

The Last of Us Looks for Love in a Hopeless Place with “Infected”

TV

Hear Me Out Hear Me Out

Hear Me Out Never Finds Its Own Voice

Film

Kaleidoscope Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope (2023): How the Newest Hypnotic Netflix Toy Stumbles with its Unique Format

TV

Bill Nighy is a Living Marvel in This Kurosawa Remake

Culture

The Last of Us When You're Lost in the Darkness The Last of Us When You're Lost in the Darkness

The Last of Us Begins with the Bleak, Familiar “When You’re Lost in the Darkness”

TV

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches of All time Greatest Royal Rumble Matches of All time

Top 5 WWE Wrestlers To Win The 2023 Royal Rumble

Wrestling

WWE Royal Rumble 1992 WWE Royal Rumble 1992

Why the 1992 WWE Royal Rumble Match is Still The Best

Culture

Sundance 2023: The Eight Must-See Films at the Festival

Culture

maxwell jacob friedman maxwell jacob friedman

MJF and Three Potential First-Time Feuds for 2023 

Culture

When It Melts movie review When It Melts movie review

When It Melts Continues an Important Conversation with Unflinching Pathos

Culture

Magazine Dreams Review Magazine Dreams Review

Magazine Dreams is a Volcanic Study of A Self-consuming Bodybuilder

Culture

Ranking The Chicago Bulls Dynasty Opponents In The ’90s

Culture

WWE sale - Vince McMahon WWE sale - Vince McMahon

The Available Options For A Potential Sale Of WWE

Culture

Fair Play movie review Fair Play movie review

Fair Play Interrogates the Cutthroat Dynamics of Business and Marriage

Culture

Michael J. Fox Teen Wolf Michael J. Fox Teen Wolf

Flashback 1985 – Revisiting the Original Teen Wolf as a New Remake Premieres

Culture

Connect