Adam Green

Dustin Roasa
Adam Green

Adam Green

City: Hoboken, New Jersey
Venue: Maxwell's
Date: 2004-02-01
A third of the way into Adam Green's set, an audience member who had been mimicking the performer's Snoopy-on-roller skates dancing felt compelled to issue a demand. "Look at me!" he screamed as his embarrassed companion edged her way into the shadows. "Hey everybody, can you see me?" Green, in the midst of mechanically thanking us for skipping the Super Bowl to jump on the PATH and trek out to New Jersey, suspended his monologue and blinked for what might have been the only time all night. He looked dumbstruck -- but only half has much as the audience members, many of whom turned around to glare. Maxwell's got silent for a moment as time, in one of those car accident-like moments, accelerated to a stop that lasted just long enough for each of us to die several shame-induced deaths on behalf of our loud-mouthed interloper. Moments like these are rare during a performance of any sort, but they are even rarer at indie rock shows. Just a guess, but they probably never happen to Adam Green. Sure, it was a staccato glitch in the forward momentum of the evening -- like a record skipping or a stick becoming lodged in the spokes of a bike -- but it was just enough to throw much of what was going on into brief flux. This is because people watch Adam Green for different reasons than they watch anyone else for. When a band takes the stage, the audience presents the illusion that it must be won over; the instant the lights flicked on to reveal a smiling Green greeting us into the microphone, we knew implicitly that he had already won. Or, possibly, we knew that he didn't care to win. He stared out at us doe-eyed, unflinching, crooning his dirty kindergarten-rug songs about cunts and the art of seducing amputees. Between verses, he twirled his arms and lost himself in gleeful, awkward dances. Between songs, he spoke little because talking wasn't necessary. Until that outburst from the crowd, it had never occurred to any of us that we should be -- could be -- doing anything other than watching Adam Green as he refused to doubt whether or not he had the right to be onstage. Which is strange, because beyond his voice there was nothing particularly commanding about his presentation or demeanor. His hair was shabby and mussed as if he had just cut it himself with a dirty mirror in a dimly lit room. He wore a taupe sports coat, draped over a V-neck T-shirt, with sleeves too short and shoulders too wide. But though he looked the part of a slummy downtowner there to bore us with his talent deficiencies, his voice had the fullness and polish to carry the songs more or less unadorned. The band assembled behind him was bare-bones, consisting of a bassist, drummer, guitarist and keyboardist. A welcome departure from the saccharine orchestral flourishes of his post-Moldy Peaches solo record, Friends of Mine, the backing musicians gave Green's voice plenty of room to stand on its own. The show managed to assuage my suspicions that Green's appeal lay in the cognitive dissonance between the preciousness of his music and the vulgar absurdity of his lyrics. It does feel mildly naughty to hear him sing, "she was a man with herpes," over an arrangement that could just as easily be on Nick Drake's Bryter Later. But irony this obvious is barely irony, and anyway it doesn't explain the doting young fans professing their love -- literally: "We love you Adam!" they kept shouting, with total earnestness. And it also doesn't explain the believability of his cover of the Boss' "Born to Run", which he used to close out the show. As we all know, covers are a tricky business in indie rock. Other than Yo La Tengo dredging up record geek obscurities that are sure to have no cultural context, most covers elicit a "Do they mean it or not?" response from the crowd. But Green, by softening his gaze and allowing his face to not be blank, cut through those layers of doubt. He had fun as he yelped out the song's lines, especially the one about the ever-lasting kiss. It was proof, should any have been needed at that point, that he had every right to be on that stage.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.