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A nostalgic trip back to New York City in the early 2000s, where the then-exhausted city saw a creative outburst of new-millennia rock 'n' roll is the essence of Dylan Southern and Will Lovedance’s latest directorial documentary Meet Me In The Bathroom, in partnership with Céline's Creative Director Hedi Slimane. Misogyny and racism in the rock scene, the rise of and pressures in fame, and creative burnout are just a few of the themes touched upon in this raw and authentic telling of the behind-the-scenes of the acclaimed 00s bands.


Based on Elizabeth Goodman’s 2017 book of the same name which capture the booming scene, Meet Me In The Bathroom is made up of only found footage rather than sit-down interviews, giving its audience an honest magnifying glass into the youth culture that carried rock into the new millennium. Set behind the sociopolitical landscape of America’s metropolis, including scenes of 9/11 and the remodelling and popularisation of Manhattan’s cheaper neighbour Brooklyn, the documentary follows the legendary Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol and Moldy Peaches, just to name a few.

Born out of frustration due to the way the music industry was headed, and the lacklustre gigs found in New York, what each of these bands have in common was their creative honesty and the need to disrupt the status quo of rock music. The documentary follows them along as they played in dingy basements to international concerts and MTV takeovers. Of these musicians, we see a large focus on vocalist and pianist of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O, as she discusses and demonstrates her experience as a front woman of a rock band, calling herself a “pioneer” in the matter but also reflecting on the drawbacks of having no one to relate to and feeling lonely in a pool of unfair sensationalisation reeking of misogyny. 

Another protagonist of the film, perhaps the most famous of them all, is Julian Casablancas, the lead singer of The Strokes. His story, though, sees the harsh toll critics and media outlets can have on the famed, as we see him drawing more and more reclusive from his creative practice the more he is being reduced to a “spoiled rich kid,” being the son of Elite Management founder, John Casablancas. Physical or mental, Southern and Lovedance’s film shows the unruly injuries these Manhattan kids suffered fore the sake of their art.

Tensions running high, as they do, in between the bands, impromptu touring, early interviews with Nardwuar and the birth of Napster, the predecessor of any music streaming app which flipped the music industry upside-down, Meet Me In The Bathroom is a tightly packed, gritty recounting of the stories, initially birthed on the streets of Manhattan, of 00s rock that pulsated worldwide. In collaboration with photographer and designer Hedi Slimane, who became one with this new-age rock era having himself dressed the likes of The Strokes, the promotional posters for the documentary consists of images taken by the photographer’s diary. Meet Me In The Bathroom, having already made its Sundance Festival debut earlier this year, will see its official release later this year.

Words
Juliette Eleuterio

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