A Time Capsule of 2000s Indie Rock

This review was originally part of our coverage of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

The Pitch: Set between the doomsday-prepping of Y2K and the existential horror of 9/11, 2000s New York was also home to another seismic shift in American culture: the burgeoning indie-rock scene , where the dirty clubs of the Lower East Side played the home of the acts. such as Interpol, The Strokes, The Moldy Peaches, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

That’s the hazy, deafening, beer-sticky stage where Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace (who previously managed the LCD Soundsystem doc Shut Up and Play the Hits) operate for Meet Me in the Bathroomless an adaptation of Lizzy Goodman’s 2017 oral history of the same name than a lively companion piece.

Comprised almost entirely of archival footage stitched together with new and archival voiceover interviews from many of the parties involved, including Karen O., James Murphy, Paul Banksand others, Meet Me in the Bathroom gives you a backstage pass to this lightning-in-a-bottle moment in music history.

Is it: The aughts gave birth to a new kind of rock star, usually spawned by no-nonsense rich kids and blue-collar post-punks in late 90s Manhattan: creatively ambitious but socially shy. , which wears against the spotlight given to them by the fame of even their stars. ascended to the heavenly heights.

Here Southern and Lovelace turned most of their eyes, Meet Me in the Bathroom mostly concerned with bands that rose to fame from the dark, isolated incubator that is NYC’s Lower East Side. The Moldy Peaches cheekily recorded the songs in their studio apartment; Karen O developed her stage persona into the wailing pop-punk diva she became; The Strokes faced a meteoric rise that immediately put the ‘future of music’ label on them, with all the pressure that entails.

(A lot of real estate is devoted to footage of Julian CasablancasThe Strokes’ boy-genius frontman, who shrugs and retreats from the weight of their stardom: he huddles and shrugs in interviews, his signature aloofness reading more than resignation.)

Their stories are largely disconnected, which is somewhat formally disappointing; Southern and Lovelace wandered from one band to another and back again like a drunken extrovert at a house party, making it difficult to pinpoint a particular band’s journey. However, focusing on how all these bands developed during the most fertile years of their musical careers (1999-2004), we see not only how they changed the culture of pop, but how the world is changing around them.

Sometimes, the filmmakers turn to the bands to remind us that yes, we’re all freaking out about Y2K and stocking MREs in anticipation of the coming apocalypse; or that the horrors of 9/11 turned their devil-may-care punk shrugs into a call for humanity. The most feared was the arrival of Napster and the mp3 craze, an event that often surprised Murphy, a man who spent three decades as a sound engineer (with a controversial but creative partnership with David Holmes) only to see the end of music as he knew it looming over the horizon; he channels the excess malaise of LCD Soundsystem’s disco-synth beats.

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