A raucous night at Johnny Brenda’s with Low Cut Connie (photos, recap)

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Here’s a quick anecdote about how dedicated Low Cut Connie is to their retro 50s rock stylings. Even though singer Adam Weiner can rock a fierce Jerry Lee Lewis piano-maniac persona without really trying, it’s not enough to merely do it with electronic keyboards and synthesizers. The band actually hauled an old upright piano up two flights of narrow stairs at Johnny Brenda’s last night, around tight corners, and up onto a three-foot stage for maximum effect.

Weiner is a master showman, leaping on the piano bench, leaning hard on the keys, teetering the thing perilously close to the edge of the stage, all while knocking out windmill kicks and gyrating his hips at the dancing fans in the front of the stage. Doing this while knocking out the forceful piano lines on “Boozophilia” (and the more intricate ragtime / jazz-influenced playing on “(No More) Wet T-Shirt Contests”) is all the more impressive. Weiner traded off songs (and within songs, verses) with band co-founder Dan Finnermore. While Weiner’s songs were sardonic and only semi-serious, Finnermore was a bit more aggro, vaguely chauvinistic but always with a great beat. “Sister Mary” was raunchy and raucous; “Don’t Cry Baby Blue” was a soaring singalong.

While Finnermore made only passing references to his English-ness (he talked a bit about his hometown of Birmingham), Weiner worked his Jersey roots hard, making self-depricating references to Cherry Hill and a certain desolate way station of a borough outside of New York City (“Scoliosis is Seacaucus”), affecting John Travolta circa Saturday Night Fever mannerisms between songs, but ultimately revealing a strong love and pride for his home state – next month, he told the crowd at the show’s end, Low Cut Connie would play two shows next month (one in New York City, one in Asbury Park) to benefit Jersey Shore relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Opening the show was stalwart Philly rock five-piece Adam and Dave’s Bloodline. Since the band’s early days of writing Replacements-style 80s pop / rock homages, they’ve evidently gotten deep into effects pedals and guitar solos; the band’s set was a heady, fuzzy fantastic space-rock trip.

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