When Low Cut Connie singer Adam Weiner was coming up with video ideas for his new song “Look What They Did,” he suggested he and photographer Alex Wroblewski head to the Jersey Shore boardwalk town where Weiner spent his summers growing up.
“I told him I wanted to spend a couple of days in Atlantic City,” the Philadelphia band leader, singer and piano-pounding showman recalled. “The Trump Plaza is there and it’s abandoned, and then we’ll walk around town and we’ll just see what’s going on.
"He said, ‘Oh, you mean an update on Bruce Springsteen’s Atlantic City video, 40 years later?’ I said, ‘Exactly!’”
Until that moment, Weiner hadn’t thought in quite those terms about his melancholy lament that calls out the president: “Donald Trump made half a billion, what have we got to show?” At least “not consciously,” Weiner said on the phone last week from a tour stop in Nashville. He has a solo show at the upstairs Loft at the City Winery Philadelphia on Thursday, and another at the Fashion District venue on March 26.
Low Cut Connie is an irrepressible party band, but Weiner has shown a brooding side, going back to “Full of Joy” on 2011’s Get Out the Lotion.
“Look What They Did” assesses Atlantic City after the departure of Trump, who once owned three casinos there. “Look at how they built up the dream," he sings. "And now they’re tearing it down.”
Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” on his 1982 album Nebraska, was released a few years after the down-on-its-luck resort town pinned its hopes of redemption on legalized gambling.
“I swam in similar waters as Bruce, just like a couple generations later,” said Weiner, 40. “I just wrote a thing that felt right to me. And then when I zoomed out, I said, Jesus Christ, I just wrote a sequel.”
“Look What They Did” is the first new Low Cut Connie music since the rock and soul band’s raucous 2018 album Dirty Pictures (part 2). It’s a taste, Weiner said, of the steadily rising group’s sixth album, Private Lives, due later this year.
Wroblewski is not only an enthusiastic LCC fan, but also a credentialed White House photographer, shooting in Washington for the Associated Press and other outlets. When the “Look” lyrics address racial injustice, the black-and-white video intersperses his images from Ferguson, Mo., and Puerto Rico.
Weiner grew up in Cherry Hill, vacationing at his family’s Margate apartment with a view of the hindquarters of Lucy the Elephant.
“I loved it,” he said of Atlantic City. His parents treated him "like an adult when I was a kid,” taking him to see such casino entertainers as Tony Bennett, Jackie Mason, and Michael Bolton.
“It got in my bloodstream," Weiner said. "The good, the bad, and the ugly. The schlockiness, and the faded glory.”
The last of Trump’s properties, the Trump Taj Mahal, closed in October 2016. “Atlantic City fueled a lot of growth for me,” Trump said in 2016. “The money I took out of there was incredible.”