Earlier this month, slop-pop duo Diet Cig, Alex and Noah, brought their punk rock energy to Wesleyan. Despite the freezing weather, students packed into Alpha Delt to catch the Flaccid Ashbacks, the on-campus soft-boy-band, before Diet Cig’s set. The Ashbacks did what they do best—they played exciting music that made the crowd move, and amped them for Diet Cig. The band covered The Script’s “Breakeven," and their version of the song is the only one I hope to ever hear again. Their enthusiasm started the night off on a strong note, one that carried through to Diet Cig’s set.
Diet Cig was the first concert I ever attended in New York, at the now temporarily defunct Shea Stadium in Brooklyn. I was immediately captivated by the Brooklyn DIY scene, and as Alex screamed “Fuck your Ivy League sweater, you know I was better,” my Ohio-raised, college freshman-self felt empowered—empowered to perform music and to write about music, to dive into a scene with which I was unfamiliar and participate in a creative process I had long admired.
When Alex and Noah played Alpha Delt, all of the emotions of my freshman-self came back. They played the song that had first inspired me, “Harvard,” as well as many other favorites such as “Sixteen” and “Scene Sick.” Alex is an animated and bubbly performer—she jumped around the stage, hopped onto the drum kit, and air-kicked. I was impressed by the way in which she was able to, nearly, constantly move and dance while maintaining vocal control and command of her guitar. Similarly, Noah on drums was tireless, sustaining the same energy with which he began the performance until the end. During her performance, Alex addressed the problematic and shitty men who serve as the inspiration to many of her songs, as well as the experience of being a woman in a predominantly male-dominated music scene and industry. The front of the crowd, mostly women (girls to the front), responded to Alex’s statements with overwhelming support and cheers.
Diet Cig’s performance made it feel like my experience with the Wesleyan music scene has come full circle—a nostalgia and call for personal reflection that I have greatly valued in the time since the show.
- Kelsey Gordon '18
The duo known today as “Diet Cig” met when Alex Luciano, lead singer, interrupted Noah Bowman, drummer, in the middle of his show to ask if he had a lighter. The unique, bold, and somewhat strange occurrence that led to the creation of the band encapsulates all their greatness. From the very beginning, it has been clear that Luciano is not afraid to do what she wants and say what she wants. Her attitude screams “I do things my own way” and it’s irresistibly attractive and highly in demand, especially from a female lead.
Their EP, Over Easy, is a collection of simple, personal anecdotes that delve into the innocence of adolescence life, touching on changes, anxiety, and the struggle of relationships. It was strong and relatable, showcasing the clear talent of the upcoming band; however, it is really their debut album, Swear I’m Good at This, that sets them apart from numerous indie-pop punk bands. The album has the usual songs about exes and lost love, but it also touches on growing up, and loss of innocence--on “Barf Day,” this meaning is explored with the chorus “I just wanna have ice cream on my birthday.” Additionally, Luciano focuses on self-expression, identity, and self-confidence on “Bath Bomb” when she sings “I know it’s hard, showing the world who you are.”
The album tackles huge and relevant issues, specifically targeting the multiple layers of sexism and gender inequality. The confinement of women to follow the gender norms is best shown in “Link in Bio.” Luciano writes “They say speak your mind, but not too loud and/You should love yourself, but don’t be too proud,” which emphasizes the constant contradictions that dictate the ‘proper’ life of a young women. On “Maid of Mist,” Diet Cig tackles sexual assault and rape culture when they sing “I am bigger than the outside shell of my body/And if you touch it without asking then you’ll be sorry”. Throughout the show too, Luciano would stop to remind others about the power of consent, which is not something a lot of people think about, especially at a concert. The “I’m fine/You’re alive/You’ll be okay/In some time” repetition throughout the song is about recovering from sexual assault, but as her soft voice repeats the phrase, it also works as a mantra to get through the hard times and tell her fans to keep going.
Now more than ever, politics are becoming less about actual policy and are becoming more and more personal. Political groups are attacking and controlling the self- expression of certain groups of people, and when people try to speak out against this injustice, they are immediately written off as being ‘over-dramatic’. Luciano writes “I’m not bein’ dramatic/I’ve just fucking had it/With the things that you say you think I should be/Well I’m done/Can’t always be so fun” and directly attacks those that have silenced her. By doing so, she encourages her fan to do the same.
Diet Cig’s Swear I’m Good at This exhibits Bowman’s insane talent on the pounding drums, and how well it compliments Luciano’s mad guitar skills and chill harmonies. But, the album is so successful because it is clear that the band is using their growing popularity and presence to attack actual issues that play a big role in their life and those of their fans. Diet Cig has such a strong loving fanbase because they are realistic. Even when performing, they did not seem like celebrities, they seemed like actual people--friends. Their lyrics continuously emphasize that they are people with whom we share similar experiences. The realness of the band and their ability to speak their mind, perform incredibly, and touch on major issues, is what made their concert one of the best live shows I’ve ever attended.
- Sanya Bery '21
All photos by Sanya Bery '21
Edited by Kelsey Gordon '18