Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman


It’s no secret that some of the most effortlessly cool rock music of all time came out of New York City.  Which is why it was so disappointing that by the 1990s the city that brought us Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Blondie, Talking Heads, and The Ramones had virtually no rock scene to speak of.  So how did Manhattan (and later Brooklyn) bounce back in the new millennium?  All it took was a dot-com bust, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and some hardworking young musicians to put the NYC rock scene back on the map.  In her fascinating oral history Meet Me in the Bathroom, journalist Lizzy Goodman got the artists and industry insiders who were there to tell the story.

Early in the decade, The Strokes made old-fashioned rock and roll, while Interpol and Yeah Yeah Yeahs put an artsy spin on it.  LCD Soundsystem got the hipsters dancing to their blend of electro, dance, and punk.  More mellow sounds from Grizzly Bear and The National came out of Brooklyn, where the rent was cheaper and the vibe more chilled out.  The sound expanded with R&B influenced groves from TV on the Radio and world beats from the Columbia-educated Vampire Weekend.  This new music came against a backdrop of 9/11, the rise of the internet, monumental changes in the music industry, Giuliani’s crackdown on nightlife, and hyper-gentrification in Manhattan pushing the creative types into Brooklyn.

Over 100 musicians, managers, journalists, bloggers, and others who were there describe the scene in their own words.  Expect these guys and gals to dish about concerts (both legendary and disastrous), the music business, and relationships.  And what would any book about rock and roll be without tales of excess?  If you were one of those people blasting either Sound of Silver or Is This It, then you should be reading Goodman’s book instead of my review of it.  Even if the roster of artists elicits a blank stare, Meet Me in the Bathroom serves as a great oral history not only of a scene, but of a city in constant flux.  

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