During a recent solo performance in Nashville, Low Cut Connie’s Adam Weiner talked about growing up in New Jersey and visiting Atlantic City in the summer. Despite the beaches and boardwalk, it wasn’t a rosy picture. The advent of casinos to the decaying seaside resort town in the late ’70s and early ’80s failed to deliver on the promise of long-term prosperity, and as gambling became legalized across the country, Atlantic City crapped out.
In the scathing new ballad “Look What They Did,” Weiner shines a harsh light on “America’s Playground” and calls out those who profited and then abandoned the city — especially President Trump, whose Trump Taj Mahal casino closed its doors just a month before the 2016 election. “Look What they Did” arrives, not coincidentally, on Presidents’ Day.
“Tough shit for the little guy, living like a chump with his back to the wall/you want to scream in the face, it makes no difference at all,” Weiner sings, accompanied only by his piano and some subtle synth, violin, and bass. “They built casinos in 1981, they said the whole freakin’ city’s gonna grow/Donald Trump made half a billion what have we got to show?”
Weiner has called the song a sequel to Bruce Springsteen’s own indictment of broken promises on the Jersey Shore, “Atlantic City.” Like that Nebraska track, it’s an underdog story, but without a happy ending.
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It’s also far removed from the elated dance-party songs that have earned the Philly-based Low Cut Connie a rep as one of today’s most entertaining live bands. But that’s what makes “Look What They Did” such a gut punch. As Weiner is doing on his current solo tour, which dials back the ass-shaking and piano-surfing, it places the focus squarely on his sharp, socially-conscious songwriting. Here he even draws parallels between Atlantic City and Ferguson, Missouri, where poverty and racism each can have the same deadly outcome (“Little creatures get the shit end of the stick/dark features get you shot in the head”).
In bars, Low Cut Connie usually leave audiences sweaty and high on euphoria. But at the end of “Look What They Did,” you’ll be seeing red, infuriated that the same bait-and-switch that devastated Atlantic City and its residents is now bearing down on the rest of the country.
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