New York and the music scene boom may have lasted and lingered for the great bands that came from it, but it was clearly bringing them down. To lend an LCD Soundsystem lyric, to paraphrase their love for the city that never sleeps, Meet Me in the Bathroom does well to show the rising disregard for popular culture. Watching awards handed out to Limp Bizkit and blink-182 sparked something in the future of the musical scene, for better or worse. A kick out against normality and a need to move the perceptions of weirdness to the forefront. It happened in the UK under the arms of Suede, Pulp and St. Etienne, and thankfully the United States followed suit.
Despite that rage against the winds, the real star and clear creative core of Meet Me in the Bathroom is Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Her articulation of why she moved into this circle of music, the disregard she hoped to give the popular scene and the everyday people who found racism and sexism acceptable. Meet Me in the Bathroom does little to display whether the ground shook beneath them and how the music scene changed for better and worse during this period, but it does observe the ragtag journalism, the explosive confidence of start-ups and the hopefulness that comes from being at the front of something grand. Stuttering pace from Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern does little for the period though.
Their expectation of a soppy story of struggling musicians pulling through to give listeners a great range of incredible music is skewered somewhat. A quick shift into the footage of 9/11 lays out a very poor shift in tone but a necessary one. Meet Me in the Bathroom struggles with its pace and repetition. Even the gig footage, of LCD Soundsystem playing Daft Punk is Playing at My House or of The Strokes storming the stage and Julian Casablancas diving into the crowd, feels lifeless. Massively problematic considering how much of a big bang it was for the music scene of the time. Lovelace and Southern stoke as many fires as they can and come up with some particularly unremarkable moments during a fascinating, remarkable time for music.
New York City is, indeed, a graveyard. Probably anyway. Meet Me in the Bathroom tries to make the grunge and vile living look fun and free. Liberating perspectives that Joan Didion had battered down in the days of the hippie movement decades before The Strokes and The Moldy Peaches hit the scene. It is all a matter of appearance and while Lovelace and Southern have a clear love for the people at the heart of it, the former directed Shut Up and Play the Hits of course, try and mask the stifling horrors that always flow under the surface. Dig! did a solid job of showing the harsher conditions of up-and-coming bands during periods of major change in the industry. Karen O is the clear lead here and rightly so, the moments with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and briefly with The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem are the equivalent of those behind-the-scenes Vice videos or a Nardwuar YouTube bit. He does feature in Meet Me in the Bathroom. It is not far off.