Before Diet Cig played a single lick, singer Alex Luciano made a few simple requests: give each other space and don’t touch anyone who doesn’t want to be touched. She briefly lectured about the importance of consent, before immediately segueing into the opening strums of “Sixteen.” Truth be told, it was an odd way to kick off a show, though her PC message was wholeheartedly accepted from the mostly millennial audience because let’s be serious: a Diet Cig show is millennial af. It takes just one listen of the duo’s debut LP, Swear I’m Good At This, to reach that conclusion.
From there, Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman hammered through a bevy of feminist, garage-y pop punk from both the LP and 2015’s Over Easy EP. On stage, Luciano can’t stand still. She jumps and frolics like a mini punk pixie, high-kicking her way left and right across the stage, and hopping back to center to reacquaint herself with her mic. She stopped between songs to discuss a recent shopping trip for Bowman’s new skinny jeans, and also throws props to a rest stop claw game that had a Nintendo Switch inside it (#Connecticut). She’s flighty and fun, but fierce in all the right moments; her confidence on stage has clearly grown as she’s learning to let go of what people think in order to frame her artistry.
Luciano, the activist, paused again mid-set to dedicate a track to gender-fluid members of the audience, or anyone who is made to feel different by a labeling, constrictive society. It makes sense that Luciano brings these issues to the forefront of her performance. Her lyrics help reflect her viewpoints on the oft disputed topics of consent and gender, issues that might forever plague younger twenty-somethings. On “Tummy Ache,” she sang, “My stomach hurts / It’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt.” On “Maid of the Mist” she sang, “And I am bigger than the outside shell of my body / And if you touch it without asking then you’ll be sorry.” She’s learning about her place in the world, and now that she’s taken the spotlight, she’s growing up and staking her claim.
The fan-fave “Harvard” won the biggest response as Luciano shouted “Fuck your Ivy League sweater!” in an ode to an old ex that did her wrong. Despite what we learn and the growth we achieve, sometimes you just gotta dish out one acerbic “Fuck you.”