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Diet Cig Brings Sloppy Pop to Gabe’s

By Jane Rice


With origins in the DIY concert scene in New York, Diet Cig has made their way out of basements and into the hearts of thousands of fans on their most recent tour, without losing the authenticity and intimacy that comes from performing at a house show.

Illustration by Mariah Cooper

Illustration by Mariah Cooper

The pop-punk duo Diet Cig performed to a packed house on Wednesday, September 27 at Gabe’s Iowa City. Fresh from the DIY music scene, the band’s lead singer, Alex Luciano identifies their sound as “sloppy pop.”

“Our music is a little sloppy, just like life,” she says, “we want it to be honest.” Luciano had never picked up an electric guitar or performed music before starting the band with her friend, drummer Noah Bowman. Bowman and Luciano explained that there is no meaning behind the name Diet Cig – a friend came up with it before a gig and it stuck.


“We didn’t realize we would actually become popular when we named the band.” Bowman said, laughing.


The local Iowa City band Hot Tang opened the show, with lead singer Meghan Buick’s tender voice carrying across the bar. The band performed an energetic set of what the singer calls “feel-good sad songs,” about love and eating your vegetables. They ended the set with their popular song, “Secret Beach” which had the crowd on their feet and dancing.

Photo courtesy of Grayson Whitmire

Photo courtesy of Grayson Whitmire

After, Los Angeles-based band The Illuminati Hotties took the stage, wearing matching red and white outfits. The self-proclaimed “pioneers of tender punk” performed an emotional set, juxtaposing spirited electric guitar and drums with melancholic vocals by front woman Sarah Tudzin that left much of the audience with tears in their eyes.

Diet Cig was met with cheers as they began their set with “Sixteen”, a punchy break up song about dating a guy who forgets your name, even though you’re both named Alex. Luciano bounced around the stage grinning and dancing despite wearing a knee brace from tearing her ACL while performing at another show. The audience danced with her, many singing along to the familiar songs off the band’s debut album Swear I’m Good At This.

In between sets, Luciano reminded the crowd to stay hydrated, “so you’ll have clear skin in case you run into your ex. Not that you can’t stunt on your ex with bad skin.” She also told the audience that they could register to vote at the merch table after the show. “You guys have to go out and vote, because that shit matters,” she said.

Diet Cig ended the night with a bubbly performance of the song “Barf Day”. Never to be taken too seriously, the band surprised the audience by playing DJ Casper’s “Cha-Cha” slide. They left the stage, leaving everyone in Gabe’s hopping, stomping, and sliding.

Check out Diet Cig on Spotify and Apple Music: