Arts & CultureMusic

Review: Diet Cig packs a powerful punch at the Boreal

New York two-piece Diet Cig’s debut album, “Swear I’m Good at This,” is a rally cry for self-love and safe spaces — a bubbly pop-punk look at the current political moment in all its confusion. Drummer Noah Bowman and guitar and vocalist Alex Luciano stopped in Eugene to play a show at the Boreal on Wednesday night in support of the record.

Each of the show’s openers — Eugene-based sister duo ShiSho and guitarist Lisa Prank — brought a wonderful sense of humor to the night that didn’t just satiate the audience, but instead made them dance. Between sets, the side speakers played a mix of indie-pop wunderkind Frankie Cosmos and Minneapolis hip hop artist/preacher of self love, Lizzo.

After buzzing her lips and tuning her guitar, Luciano launched the band into a rip-roaring version of the song “Sleep Talk.” Luciano’s brown pigtails bobbed up and down as she flailed herself around the stage, jumping off Bowman’s drum set with guitar in hand. Bowman is an ever-steady presence behind Luciano, but he lets her do most of the talking.

When she broke a guitar string broke at the end of a song, Luciano rambled about the band’s visit to Weed, California until Bowman replaced the string. This wasn’t an uncomfortable moment, though. Luciano’s energetic vulnerability in her stage presence is a joy to watch because she comes across as authentic. Clad in a black New Jersey Nets shirt, black jeans and tennis shoes, Luciano jumped off of different parts of the stage, often getting close with the crowd and looking audience members directly in the eye as if to say, “I got you.”

Luciano’s first piece of stage banter included her recommending menstrual cups to “all those who have a uterus in the audience” and telling everyone how “you can find crystals in there, like Gwyneth Paltrow.” The band’s live version of the jangly, quieter song “Scene Sick” accompanied this moment perfectly. The repetition of the lyrics “I don’t care” and “I’m sick of hearing about your band” capture the ennui of being a marginalized person in music or any other artistic movement. When Luciano croons “I just wanna dance,” it’s hard not to dance away frustration alongside her.

Luciano addressed statements like these in a personal way multiple times in the set. She said “being kind and soft is how we will destroy fascism” before dedicating the song “Bath Bomb” to her mother. Her voice often jumped between a croon and yelp, never quite in one place or another, but instead settling somewhere in between.

Before playing the angsty and winding “Sixteen,” Luciano asked the crowd if anyone was 16. After a 16-year-old raised her hand, Luciano said that she hoped the girl had better teen years than she did. Referencing the song, she said that she hopes the 16-year old is not dating someone who shares her name.

Diet Cig closed the set on the equally angsty, but lighter, “Harvard” off of the band’s 2015 EP, “Over Easy.” The crowd bounced its way through the band’s arguably most well-known song until the set was sadly done.

In the song, “Maid of the Mist,” Luciano sings, “I’m bigger than the outside shell of my body / And if you touch it without asking / Then you’ll be sorry.” That sentiment sums up Diet Cig perfectly. This band, though small in size, is mightier than it first looks. With Bowman’s steadiness and Luciano’s presence, Diet Cig has got nothing to lose.

Watch Diet Cig’s video for “Maid of the Mist” below:

Follow Sararosa on Twitter: @srosiedosie

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Sararosa Davies

Sararosa Davies

Sararosa Davies is the senior A&C editor at the Emerald. A former editor at the youth-run music blog Garage Music News, her written work has been featured in City Pages in Minneapolis, Eugene Weekly and Sirius XM's music blog. She's one of many Minnesotan transplants in Oregon.

Send her tips and questions at [email protected] or check out her work at