‘It could never happen again’: Meet Me in the Bathroom and the birth of New York’s last great indie scene

It’s the turn of the century. New York’s music scene is flatlining. Enter The Strokes, all surly insouciance, torn denim and tattered Converse. Theirs is an electrifying din; mixing distorted vocals with spindly guitars, it’s the defibrillator that the rock ’n’ roll scene so badly needs. From grimy graffiti-covered toilet stalls in dingy dive bars, these five New Yorkers stumble bleary-eyed out onto the biggest stages on the planet.

In Meet Me in the Bathroom, a new documentary based on journalist Lizzy Goodman’s 2017 book of the same name, directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace journey back to this strange and distant land. They return with a treasure trove of grainy archive footage capturing the creative upheaval that produced era-defining bands, including Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol, TV on the Radio, and The Moldy Peaches. “Those bands built a scene in a really DIY way, without the access to millions of people that the internet gives you, and without this notion of self-promotion that happens on social media,” explains Southern, speaking over video call from London. “We wanted to put it on the screen for people who were there, and also for a new generation of aspiring musicians.”

The film picks up the story in 1999, at a time when the idea that New York could return to its place at the centre of the musical universe seemed far-fetched. Much of the Lower East Side was boarded up, and almost three decades had passed since legendary Manhattan punk club CBGBs had fostered the likes of Television, Patti Smith, Blondie, Talking Heads and the Ramones. “I remember thinking, maybe New York wasn’t the kind of city anymore that produces iconic bands,” Adam Green of The Moldy Peaches says in the film’s archive footage.

Continue reading at The Independent.