By – Nick Adrian
For fans of The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, New York, and music documentaries
Once upon a time, there was a music scene in New York City that many considered to be groundbreaking and influential. One that’s been studied for years, leading not only the entire country, but even the entire world to turn its head toward the spectacle. Prior, the term “rock music” had expanded almost up to its breaking point and the concept of the “rock star” had basically gone extinct – but suddenly, rock felt fresh again. No, this isn’t the 1970s punk scene; this is the early 2000s rock revival, fronted by such darlings as The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and LCD Soundsystem.
A film adaptation of Lizzy Goodman’s tell-all book of the same name, directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace’s Meet Me In the Bathroom follows a handful of now-iconic New York bands as they rise through the ranks of the competitive music scene and go on to singlehandedly define it. It tells the story of rock charts going from stale and stagnant to suddenly flushed with new talent, all seeming to hail from the Big Apple. This new bunch of heroes included the aforementioned acts as well as The Moldy Peaches, Interpol, TV on the Radio, among others, whose contributions helped kick-off a new appreciation for guitar-driven music that would last twenty years on. Touching back and forth on different bands/artists’ perspectives through archival footage, audio, and interviews, the doc gives a thorough look on the consequences of overnight fame (the Strokes), the anxiety of stepping in front of the microphone long after your peers have (LCD Soundsystem) and the pressures of being a frontwoman in an industry still dominated by men (Yeah Yeah Yeahs).
While Goodman’s book is obviously more detailed and engrossing, Southern and Lovelace condense the best material within the confines of a feature film doc successfully. It’s essentially a time capsule of New York before and after the events of the 9/11 attacks; a city whose paranoid, anxious, and uneasy residents were in desperate need of escapism. Fun, energetic, back-to-basics rock and roll was popular again and ready to save the day – its influence continuing to last twenty years on. Much like the lines of Walt Whitman bookending the doc, “Manhattan crowds, with their turbulent musical chorus! Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me,” the music of New York rages on endlessly and is always there when we need it.
Available to stream on Showtime, Amazon Prime, Fubo TV, Apple TV
Written by: Nick Adrian
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