I first caught a Low Cut Connie show two winters ago at the Stone Pony—the legendary Asbury Park venue where Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi got their starts. I went into it not knowing anything about the band other than that they played rock ‘n’ roll and that they had an admirably cheeky name. As for me? Two important things to note: I lack enthusiasm. And I don’t dance.
But then they started to play. Low Cut Connie doesn’t ease you into a show. Frontmen Adam Weiner (on piano) and Dan Finnemore (on drums and guitar) dove right into their infectiously energetic set, with the former performing what can only be described as piano-centric acrobatics. Weiner has a background in experimental theater and played gay piano bars early in his career; the combination of the two has seemingly honed his on-stage persona to one of the more unique and enjoyable ones you’ll ever experience. They sang about hanging with their boys, about getting too drunk; they sang a song called "Shit, Shower, and Shave" about...shitting, showering, and shaving. The venue was modestly-sized but packed, and the crowd—filled with die-hard fans and newcomers like me—ate it up. I left sweaty and reeking of Yuengling.
Since then, I’ve seen them most every time they cross through my neck of the woods. Besides Weiner and Finnemore, the current lineup includes James Everhart on lead guitar, Will Donnelly on drums, and Larry Scotton on bass. They always look like they’re enjoying themselves so damn much, it’s impossible not to do the same.
The band formed in 2010 after Weiner and Finnemore (then in bands called, respectively, Lady Fingers and Swamp Meat) got stuck in a freight elevator in England together for four hours. They released their third studio album, Hi Honey, this April, and it's an excellent natural progression to 2011’s Get Out the Lotion and 2012’s Call Me Sylvia: the contagiously rousing old school rock ‘n’ roll sound it still there, but it’s injected with even more soul. And, in a feat of impressive range, it features both Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs and Vincent Pastore, better known as Big Pussy on TheSopranos. (Somebody needs to work that into a trivia question.)
But what does it mean to be a new, youngish band—utterly free of pretensions—trying to gain footing in the music industry when you’ve got more in common with Jerry Lee Lewis than what Weiner refers to as “concave chest laptop bands?”
“We get a lot of shit for being too crass,” Weiner admitted over a lunch of barbecue. “For being red blooded and having dirty jokes...just as they would say in England: ‘tits out.’”
Due to his own experiences before forming Low Cut Connie, Weiner says he feels like there are “two music industries.” We’re directly exposed to one at all times—it’s the one that gets air time on TV, placement in glossy music magazines, and slots at bloated music festivals. “Then there is this other world,” Weiner adds. “That world is the world I toiled in for most of my musical life and that’s playing in a gay bar, being in a wedding band, being in a cover band, or just being the best local band in your own bumblefuck little town. It's that local thing, where there is absolutely no connection or desires to play the game of the industry. I feel I’ve had as many musically and artistically satisfying experiences over on that side of the industry. I would rather play to twenty people that it really means something to.”
Maybe that ethos is what makes listening to Low Cut Connie like hanging out at your favorite dive bar. It’s familiar and comforting, and while you won’t know where the night’s going to take you, you know you’re always going to have a good time.
Photos by Phil Knott