When she sings, Ali Wadsworth unchains an intensity that’s unable to be traced back to anything calculated or manufactured. It’s real, raw music for the moment in the moment and last Friday night at Union Transfer (09-08-2017) it was enough to stop an audience dead in their tracks. Opening for Low Cut Connie in Philadelphia, Wadsworth mined the depths and opened her heart, all the while channeling the moving mixture of vintage soul, blues and rock that lives and breathes as the cornerstone of her sound. Backed by a band featuring Ryan Williams, Kate Bernhardt, Hannah Taylor, Jared Loss, Keaton Thandi, Justin Pellecchia and Lucas Rinz and James Everhart of LCC, her stunning performance set the tone for a wild night of songs marked by the type of blissful chaos that can only be experienced inside the walls of a packed music venue.
Appearing next, Chill Moody roamed the stage under a cluster of glowing lights, his concentrated delivery propelling powerfully voiced lyrics forward with the raucous impact of a rock show. Accompanied by Joseph “Joey Stix” Pointer, O. Thompson and Bets Charmelus of The Ill Fated Natives, he often raised his hands while the mesmerized crowd mirrored his movements, taking in each word with amazement. Although the rhymes that left his lips at lightening speed seemed to mimic the palpable energy that had been let loose in the air that night, gaining speed like a train that would only pick up steam.
For the little while she sat in the dark, a dim haze of foggy lights swam around the stage, threatening to swallow her up completely. But soon, the very darkness and smoke that hid her seemed to push each letter on her side into view, moving apart like a curtain until the inscription could be seen by all: “S H O N D R A.” Emerging over the years as a de facto coat of arms, Shondra –an old workhorse of a piano- is the undeniable, beloved mascot of Low Cut Connie. Before the Philly based band had even appeared, fans inched closer and closer in a determined bid to see the instrument for themselves, solemnly reaching out to touch it as if it held the power to heal. Although for all of the elation that its appearance stirred up, nothing could have prepared the room for the mass hysteria that took root once the group had actually surfaced. And although he was the last to arrive, frontman Adam Weiner’s introduction to the audience was anything but rushed. Bouncing out onto the stage with all of the presence and flash of a prizefighter, he paced back and forth, touching hands and locking eyes with the cheering sold-out crowd before he took a seat at the piano and Low Cut Connie made the venue their home.
Throughout their set, Weiner, James Everhart, Will Donnelly, Larry Scotton, Lucas Rinz and guest vocalist Saundra Williams, never seemed to be in one place for too long. Parading around as if he had one thousand times before, Weiner in particular often made it seem like he could have closed his eyes and instinctively pinpointed the location of everything down to the curves of the stage to the scuffs on the floor. And as delightfully gritty and barbed as their sound can be, there’s a certain brightness that turns every performance into a celebration. At Union Transfer, that joy spread fast, filling the room with an intoxicating rush of back beat induced euphoria. Fanning that fire with high voltage renditions of songs like “Angela,” “Pity Party,” “Dirty Water,” “Am I Wrong” and “Shake It Little Tina,” the group moved wildly while their leader climbed atop the piano with the microphone pressed to his face again and again, racing down paths cast by spotlights like some sort of rock and roll superman. “We’re all excited just to paint the town, tear the whole thing down,” he once sang on “Me N Annie,” -those words coming to mind and suddenly feeling prophetic –as an entire city went crazy. Yet even by the night’s end, with his curly hair made straight with sweat and the familiar red jacket he often performs in thrown aside, Weiner didn’t show any signs of slowing down. And after delivering an encore full of the same madcap energy they started their set with, Low Cut Connie thanked their city and disappeared into the dark, ready to take to the road and do it all over again in another town on a new day and a different stage.
Article: Caitlin Phillips