Live: Diet Cig in Philly

Rain dripped off of the old words carved into the front of the venue: “MAUSOLEUM” glistened in the gray light. Inside, Diet Cig was throwing a benefit concert on Thursday for Girls Rock Philly, a local summer camp that teaches music to young girls. Under the wet stone doorway passed an interesting mix: 10 year olds with their parents, and young people with piercings and radical feminist agendas. Doors opened at 7:30. Walking inside revealed a small stage, a stone-floored room, and an upper balcony with string lights looped around the bannister. The merch tables were covered in T-shirts, glitter, and googly eyes. The walls dripped with art, pieces made by Philadelphian artists. The first act of the evening was Wolf Pack, a band made of four 10 year old girls – Mia, Meena, Ruth, and Alonie – who had met during last year’s Girls Rock Philly summer camp. They played four songs, including a Best Coast cover, and killed it. The band is impressive for many reasons, not the least of which because they also starred in one of Diet Cig’s music videos. Their parents cheered and the locals loved them. They returned later in the evening to dance on stage with Diet Cig during “Tummy Ache,” but for their own set they only played four songs. The second opener was a local band named Sports. They rocked – their sound is a clear indie-punk mashup, incorporating a slew of influences from Modern Baseball to Weezer and Green Day. Their instruments sounded phenomenal. They are tightly coordinated, catchy, and skilled songwriters. The only issue was their vocals – on their album they are clear and emotive, but the sound system that evening mangled them to the point that they could not be understood. Carmen, the lead singer, could be heard but not comprehended, and Jack the lead guitarist was hurt even worse – he was barely heard at all. Their set was very energetic, though, and a joy to watch. They seemed talented and likable. Finally, on came Diet Cig, with a pink rubber duck on their hi-hat and flowers on their amps. The lead singer, Alex Luciano, had brought her mom and her younger sisters to the concert, and they watched from the upper balcony. The drummer, Noah Bowman, set up his own drums and mingled with the crowd for the other sets. It was all extremely friendly and interactive. Alex encouraged the crowd to dance instead of moshing, to drink plenty of water, and called them “beautiful rays of sunshine.” She bounced around the stage, throwing high kicks and standing on the bass drum. The energy of her aerobics did nothing to detract from the quality of their playing: They sounded tight and filled the room with an incredibly catchy indie feminist punk sound. Their songs reached out to girls and trans people with flare. Most of their set list came from their most recent album, Swear I’m Good At This, which is also a really good work. If the upcoming tour that they are about to embark on is anything like their show on Thursday at the PhilaMOCA, it is crucial that you go catch them now. -William Weinstein