“It’s our fourth time playing First Avenue” revealed Adam Weiner during his show last night. He retained his usual seat on the bench behind his upright piano, affectionally named Nellie (that is, if affectionate means having it’s named carved into the wood on the side.) Nellie, like Adam, both appeared to have been through hell and back. Much like Adam himself, Nellie bore the scars of their shared journey through the rough and tumble terrain of the music world that started in east coast dive bars, gay bars, and honkey tonks. Today, their path found them a spot in one of Minnesota’s most coveted venues once again. While Adam has been a solo performer for years, the addition of his backing band that made up Low Cut Connie added an extra layer of grit and authenticity to the show. Their background is steeped in the culture of East Coast that us Minnesotans don’t see much of. And as is the east coast style – we’re going to be out late. Low Cut Connie is not the type of band to perform an early show – they kept the Minneapolis crowd waiting until 10:45 pm. But once they took the stage, they ensured that no one would nod off during their 20-song set.
The high voltage showmanship of the band helps. Throughout the night, Adam stands on his piano, points, poses, dances, and even hops down into the pit, leaning into the rail over the top of the crowd. He likely would have crowd surfed by leaping off the top of his piano if the staff would have let him. He tears off his denim jacket – and as is a staple in the Low Cut Connie liveshows, rips apart his undershirt. He takes elements that harkens back to the theatrics of the 1950s and 1960s piano rockers, and made it a central part of the Low Cut Connie live act.
Sex and drugs make up the majority of old school rock and roll songs – and a few Low Cut Connie staples, too. Yet no subject is too much for the band, even if us Minnesotans were timid about certain topics. Adam took a minute to speak about his song “King of The Jews” Which comes at an important time, recently heightened with the recent attacks in Gaza. The songs heart is in finding strength and power where too many people see weakness, and like the album of which the song comes from, the newly released “Art Dealers” directly addresses antisemitism. While songs about antisemitism aren’t necessarily showstoppers, they are intense and important topics to address – especially in the midst of these attacks across the world.
Adam made sure that he got his point across with the crowd, but also made sure we all had a safe and fun time throughout the night. Concerts are supposed to be fun, after all. And for many, a momentary escape from the weights of the world. While Adam is certainly the frontman of the group, There were many moments where his backing band stood out. Behind Adam stood Will Donnelly, an unassuming yet immensely capable guitarist who brings an array of styles to Low Cut Connie’s sonic palette. Throughout the show, he sports a sly grin, making sure not to take too much of the spotlight from Adam when he traverses the stage like a jungle gym. Until a moment in “Rio” perhaps the band’s most recognizable song, he stands on top of the bench – and on top of Adam – playing the guitar with his hands, and smashing the high keys of the piano with his right foot. In front of the piano were also two women in the band, Abigail Dempsey and Rocky Bullwinkel, both of whom rocked a combination of guitars, violins, and tambourines just as good as they rocked their outfits onstage. They too traversed the stage, often sharing the bench with Adam when not required behind a microphone.
While us Minnesotans love it when an artist calls us an important place for them, Adam’s love for the Twin Cities aren’t just words. He made sure to let us know he’ll be back in November for Minneapolis’s weeklong Sound Unseen event, speaking at a showing of Art Dealer’s accompanying short film. The film captures the rawness of the band’s three-show series that took place in New York City in 2022, interwoven with five years’ worth of documentary footage that delves into the challenges, disappointments, and often humorous moments of leading a “working class art life” in contemporary America. Tickets here.
Low Cut Connie’s music and persona are a perfect match for the gritty, intimate setting of First Avenue. In fact, when they perform elsewhere in the area, it almost feels out of place. Last summer, they performed a free show at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell Stage at the Minnesota State Fair, and while it may have attracted a sizable audience, it didn’t quite capture the essence of their music. The outdoor, family friendly, daylight setting seemed a far cry from a late night at First Avenue. It’s venues like First Avenue that allow Low Cut Connie to truly shine. We’re lucky to have that space just as much as we are to have a band who can turn it into their natural habitat.