• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Review: Meet Me in the Bathroom

ByGeorgia Bennett

Mar 24, 2023
A black and white image of Karen O on stage

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Meet Me in the Bathroom is a documentary on the whirlwind blink-and-you’ll -miss-it New York City rock scene circa y2k. In Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern’s adaptation of Lizzy Goodman’s book of the same name, the film presents a whistle-stop tour of all the New York favourites from The Strokes to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to LCD Soundsystem. Though the amount of time dedicated to each band is sometimes too fleeting to get a feel for each band’s story and sound, the documentary movingly captures the transience of this musical zeitgeist.

The film is an ode to the pre-internet experience of music – live music full of recklessness and no regard for tomorrow. It’ll no doubt give you a taste of nostalgia for the epoch (whether you were there for it or not) through its multimedia patchwork of concert footage and candid interviews. It is a reflection of the scene’s powerful sense of community that the documentary so effortlessly sweeps up the viewer along with it, even twenty odd years later.

Meet Me in the Bathroom does not, however, shy away from the toll the chaos took on rock and roll’s most beloved. It touches on The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr’s dabble with heroin and hones in on Karen O’s struggles with maintaining the destructive on-stage behaviour that fans demanded of her. The documentary does not only herald the moment of the New York scene zeitgeist but showcases its unravelling. It bittersweetly portrays how such freedom ends, as do youth, friendships, and bands. Some musicians come onto the documentary never to be seen again, unconcluded, much like the transience of the scene and the business itself.

Though the documentary feels both comprehensive and cut short, perhaps this is the best way to reflect such a brief and unique moment in music history. It is in the form of such glimpses that memory functions after all. When you reflect upon the bands you once loved and the concerts you saw, it is a messy montage not dissimilar to the hazy compilation of audio interviews, low quality footage, and flash photos that forms this documentary. It is this style of filmmaking that allows the film to capture such nostalgia and attune your ear to the distant hum of this moment of musical history that still resounds today.

The film concludes with its most important character: New York City. The end of the documentary details the exodus of musicians and artists from New York as rent prices soared, thus concluding the movement. The final clips of this era of New York are fittingly accompanied by the final lines of Walt Whitman’s ‘Give me the Splendid, Silent Sun’: “Manhattan crowds with their turbulent musical chorus / —with varied chorus and light of the sparkling eyes; / Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me.”

Karen O” by aurélien. is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.