It has been exactly one year since Diet Cig — the musical project of singer/guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman — premiered their first EP, “Over Easy.” It seems fitting, then, that the band would return to its New York roots for a show at Brooklyn’s Aviv on Saturday. The duo is fresh off a tour that took them across both the UK and the United States, and will be departing on another one just next month, this time to South by Southwest, the popular music festival in Austin, Texas.
In spite of jet lag, Diet Cig put on a lively homecoming show, confirming their well-deserved success.
“It feels really good to be home,” Luciano said to the crowd as they came out on stage. They began with “Cardboard,” one of the more mellow songs on the EP. Luciano’s airy voice and reflective lyrics juxtaposed Bowman’s upbeat drumming, introducing the crowd to the music as if inviting them into their home.
The upbeat tone of Diet Cig’s music was complemented by their exceptional stage presence. During the instrumental break in their single “Sleep Talk,” Luciano hopped around the stage emphatically while Bowman bobbed his head to the drumbeat. During “Scene Sick,” Luciano implored the audience to dance along, later adding: “This is actually my birthday party.”
Between songs, Luciano stressed her relief to be back in New York after a long tour. Citing anecdotal evidence such as finding a cockroach in her towel the previous morning and accidentally buying inappropriate comic books for her 12-year-old sister, she gave the show a conversational ease, as if the audience were simply watching their friends play at a house show. During “Breathless,” a song about living alone for the first time, the emphasized line “in my first apartment / where I pay so much for rent,” was met with knowing cheers from an audience of fellow New Yorkers.
Towards the end of their set, Diet Cig premiered a new song, which Luciano attributed to all her “girls who have ever been talked down to by a guy,” and all her “guys who felt like they had to prove something.” The song showed clear musical progression for the band, displaying a more evolved sound while remaining true to Luciano’s catchy and resonant lyrics.
The band ended their 45-minute set with the most popular song on “Over Easy,” “Harvard,” a biting reflection on a snobby ex-boyfriend and his new Ivy League girlfriend. Luciano jumped around gleefully, climbing on top of the speaker and crowd surfing. The live set seemed to add a new dimension to Diet Cig’s music, as if dancing and jumping were unspoken requirements for listening. Much like her lyrics, Luciano’s final remark was clear, simple and full of heart: “Thank you. We love you. Happy Valentine’s Day!”
Tickets are on sale for Diet Cig’s next New York show at Baby’s All Right on March 26. In the meantime, you can hear the song “Scene Sick” at nyunews.com.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 16th print edition. Email Mandy Freebairn at [email protected]