Low Cut Connie with Leland Sundries and Bette Smith
The Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY
May 18, 2018
Low Cut Connie is a band that calls Philadelphia ist home. It’s also a force of nature. One listen to its music and its is immediately obvious that the band has been equally influenced by David Bowie, T-Rex, Chuck Berry, the Replacements, Prince and yes, Dr. John, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Professor Longhair. To borrow from and paraphrase from Jon Landau, “I have seen the future…”
Low Cut Connie and its frontman Adam Weiner deliver high-energy rock ‘n’ roll that looks to the future while honoring the past (and all that makes rock what it is—a mélange and bastardization of all various musical forms that came before it). To call a Low Cut Connie show high-energy is akin to calling Hurricane Katrina, a slight drizzle. A Low Cut Connie show is a powder keg of excitement, a fantastic celebration of what a rock show should be.
On a cool evening in late May, Low Cut Connie descended upon New York City’s Bowery Ballroom for a CD release show/party honoring its latest masterpiece, Dirty Pictures (Vol. 2) released on Contender Records. Along for the ride were Leland Sundries and Bette Smith.
The evening began when Leland Sundries took the stage. The New York-based Americana band, led by Nick Loss Eaton delivered a strong set that featured music and lyrics that conjured the ghosts of and essence of the Band, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy, early Elvis and Hank Williams with the wry modern storytelling aesthetic of Lou Reed, Cracker and Leonard Cohen. Leland Sundries’ performance got the evening off to a rocking start with many audience members engaging in retail therapy at the merch stand following its set which leaned heavily on its 2016 L'Echiquier Records releases, the Music For Outcasts album (2016) and The Foundry EP. Let’s hope that this group is readying a new full-length release for later in 2018.
Bette Smith has a big voice and is from Bedford-Styvesant, Brooklyn. Her sound is influenced by Memphis blues and soul. Echoes of Sharon Jones, Otis Redding, Tina Turner and Etta James can be heard when she performs. Her bluesy, funky and soulful performance had the crowd worked up, dancing and sweating in the small club. Following her set, judging by the crowd around the merchandise table clamoring to purchase t-shirts, posters and copies of her latest CD, Jetlagger (Big Legal Games Records/Fat Possum Records, 2017), Smith is an artist on the move.
Soon it was time for the headliners, Low Cut Connie (Weiner on piano, Larry Scotton on drums, bassist Lucas Rinz, and guitarists James Everhart and Will Donnelly), to take the stage. The temperature of the room rose from electric to frantic with anticipation as Weiner’s weathered, worn, chipped and gnarled upright piano was wheeled front and center. Suddenly, the lights dropped, the stage lights came to life, the band appeared and it was off to the races.
A Low Cut Connie show is a thing of beauty. It harkens back to when a Bruce Springsteen show was more of a “what will he do happening” rather than an “I hope he’ll do event.” Back in the day, Bruce had even more energy than he does at present (which remains a helluva lot). Low Cut Connie’s Weiner is a lot like Cowboy Mouth’s Fred Leblanc and early Bruce—you never know what he’s going to do. He might climb the piano (he did and often does), he might travel into the crowd, he might go off-setlist to please and adoring fan. Nothing is impossible and anything can happen.
Fans of the band were treated to a main set that opened with the barn-burning new rave-up “All These Kids Are Way Too High” and featured older tunes like “Pity Party,” “Scoliosis in Secaucus,” “Am I Wrong,” “Shake It Little Tina” and “Bozophilia” with tunes from 2017’s Dirty Pictures (Vol.1) (Contender Records) including “Dirty Water,” “Death and Destruction” and “Revolution Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The new album was also represented by the poppy “Beverly,” the fiery “Oh Suzanne,” “Every Time You Turn Around,” “Master Tapes” and the cover of Alex Chilton’s cover “Hey Little Child.”
The band’s influences were really showcased during the elongated encore set. Following Weiner’s solo acoustic performance of “Me N Annie,” the encores included the piano driven Black Sabbath tune Changes, Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs,” “Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire,” and “Prince’s “Controversy,” which was released on Dirty Pictures (Vol. 1). Now that’s eclectic.
Low Cut Connie is more than just Weiner. The band is a tight, cohesive unit that has been made strong by touring regularly and playing together. The members feed off of each other and off the crowd and its reaction to the music. The guitars ring and the rhythm section lays down a groove that gets the audience in the mood to party. Weiner is the master of ceremonies that brings it all together.
When the houselights came up and the crowd filtered toward both merchandise stand and the exits many were heard asking, “Where and when is the next show?” Other fans were content to as the folks selling the CDs when the band would be back in town. Hopefully, it will be very soon, before they’re selling out larger less intimate places. That day is coming and it will be here before we know it.
Photo Credit : Christine Connallon