Adam Green’s Carpet Ride to the Troubadour

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It may be “Aladdin,” but it has a ‘Green’ twist to it

Words and Photos by Nancy Soriano   Contributor

“Sit down, relax, enjoy it” is how Adam Green prefaced the beginning of his movie showing and concert on Oct. 2 at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. 

“Adam Green’s Aladdin” is a film that should be gone into with no expectations. If you’re looking for a magical carpet ride, stay in Disney. There’s a ride on a rug, but the only indescribable feeling that you’ll be vibing on is confusion. In 80 minutes, you’ll meet Aladdin, played by Green himself, and become privy to the world of an “upper middle class pauper” that is on the cusp of “the highest part of hell...lowest point of heaven.” 

Enter a genie whose name is Mustafa and works as the interface of the lamp, which prints its wishes, adds paper mache sets and props, and adds a whole bunch of seemingly pointless one-liners. My favorite is with the storage eunuchs who are robots that have a glass box where their dicks should beou’ll have experienced only a portion of the world that Green had reimagined with very loose ties to the original tale from “One Thousand and One Nights.” 

Supporting the eccentric, creative genius of Green was David Ivar, originally from Herman Dune but now known as Black Yaya, with a brief acoustic set. He played five songs that each felt deeply personal in a way that remained dependent on his personal experiences while taking the audience to a place where they had all been before.

The most striking track that he performed was titled, “Song for Lou Reed” which expressed the distant, but no less powerful, sense of mourning that comes from losing your heroes. Ivar’s chorus revealed that “it’s strange to miss a person that you never knew,” an eloquently haunting, but appropriate statement that honored the great Lou Reed. Paired with his guitar and harmonica, Black Yaya’s vocals were as commanding as the story that holds together, in a clandestine way.

In a crowd of less than fifty people, the atmosphere felt pretty personal. Personal enough to the point where Green revealed that he had a “sexual fantasy to play at the Troubadour.” He thanked the audience for “falling into [his] trap.” Whether or not crowd surfing was a part  that is left to the imagination, Green managed to do it a total of four times. 

His live band, comprised of a bassist named Aaron, a drummer named Adam, and a guitarist named John, who also appeared in the film. Together, they recreated most of the movie’s soundtrack and a handful of Green’s other work. 

As soon as Green came on stage, his presence dominated the room. It was almost passive. He seemed like a guy who just genuinely enjoyed sharing his work with people who appreciated it. During many of the instrumental portions of his songs, he went around high-fiving the audience and during the rendition of his popular song “Jessica,” handed the mic over to a fan in the front who had been singing along. 

While his music is soothing and can lull you into various moods based on the content of his melodies, watching Green actually perform was like watching a tennis match. The only time he remained mostly stagnant was during a brief solo set where he played three songs that were requested by the audience.

Remaining aware of his geography, however, Green did manage to include “Tropical Island” which he dedicated to Los Angeles as a whole. The bass line’s soft melody line paired with the simple guitar chords managed to transport the crowd to a Kokomo-like state of mind. His cool vocals conveyed a wave of nostalgia that only the Beach Boys could cure.

 From The Moldy Peaches to his own solo work, visual and auditory, Green has come a long way in perfecting his craft to become whatever he needs it to be in the moment, even if the tonality minorly changes. When listening to his music, Green really said it best: “You have ears to hear. That’s what Jesus says.” So please, go watch “Adam Green’s Aladdin,” or at least listen to the soundtrack. It’s a definitely a whole new world.

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