The five-piece band’s first-ever Grand Rapids appearance on Friday night was a rambunctious show unlike anything this reviewer has ever experienced. (Review, video)
I have to confess that I never intended to write about Low Cut Connie.
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Having briefly researched the Philadelphia rock ’n’ roll band in advance of its first-ever Grand Rapids appearance, I was struck by the universal, glowing praise heaped upon the outfit for its fiery live shows and duly impressed by the vintage-hued music I streamed online.
I just wanted to see what the buzz was about.
But mostly I was intrigued that frontman Adam Weiner pummels a real piano on stage – a small battered upright that group members haul around on tour – so, as a piano thrasher myself, I felt compelled to swing by the earthy and intimate Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill on Friday night to check them out.
They were nothing short of a revelation.
Instantly transforming the assembled cabal of typically bawdy and diverse Tip Toppers into avid fans, Weiner, drummer-guitarist Dan Finnemore and the rest of this talented crew turned the tavern into the sort of sweaty, deliciously frenetic hot spot that it can be on its very best nights.
Weiner is a sparking hot wire throwback to the early days of rock ’n’ roll, an uncaged beast who batters his instrument in rollicking fashion from every angle, frequently bending over the keys while standing on his piano bench, gesticulating wildly to the crowd, wielding the microphone stand like a weapon to implore fans to dance, to cheer, to sing, to be part of a singular evening of pulse-pounding music — often meandering into the audience to further stoke the embers.
I imagine the honky-tonk vibe was much like that surrounding the raucous, piano-pounding Jerry Lee Lewis in his early years, just a whale of a lot louder.
With Weiner trading lead vocals at times with Finnemore, a native of England, the five-piece Low Cut Connie explodes like some manic musical freight train with Jerry Lee, Elvis Costello, Spoon, The Faces and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins as engineers battling for control.
It’s a wild, satisfying and completely captivating ride with the band uncorking songs such as “Shake It Little Tina” from its brand new album, “Hi Honey,” along with earlier tunes like “Rio” and the crowd favorite, “Shit, Shower & Shave.”
They also dusted off covers of true classics: R&B’s “Annie Had a Baby” and Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire,” which made for a thunderous wrap-up to an evening most won’t soon forget.
(It wasn’t the elbow-to-elbow crowd that this band deserved, but will likely find the next time they hit town. Grand Rapids’ punk phenoms Murder Party finished up the night with its own rousing set – another one of those local bands that deserves more attention.)
Heck, Low Cut Connie is a band that even bartenders rave about, a band that leaves skeptics slack-jawed, smiling and shaking their heads in awe.
So could this be the spark that some say rock has been missing? The ferocity, the passion, the real thing?
You can decide for yourself. Just don’t miss this train the next time it passes through.
VIDEO: Low Cut Connie at The Tip Top Deluxe
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