By Thomas Infante
The first show of the fall 2017 CUB Alt season, which took place the evening of Tuesday Sept. 5, had the Brower Student Center pulsating with raw rock music and good vibes. Headlining band Diet Cig, a pop punk duo composed of singer/guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman, had the crowd going wild with their loud, catchy songs and their enthralling stage presence. Opening bands Coping Skills and Ratboys set the tone and amped up the crowd with their emo/punk blend of rock.
First up was Coping Skills, an indie rock band fronted by Rachel Dispenza and Lauren DeLucca. DeLucca plucked at a black Fender bass adorned with stickers while Dispenza hammered away power chords on her white Telecaster. Vocals were shared by the two, screaming and singing some angsty and outlandish lyrics like “my body is a temple, but I treat it like my neighbor’s house.”
The band’s song “Dropped Out of College” was ironically the most well received by the audience, who bounced to the upbeat music and sang along with the simple and catchy lyrics. The band’s cheerful attitude and casual stage banter put the crowd in a great mood, with DeLucca describing the show as “a dank ass gig.”
Next up was Ratboys, an indie/alternative rock band from Chicago. The 5-piece band has a more mellow and dreamy vibe than the name suggests, mostly due to lead singer Julia Steiner’s soft and airy vocals. In addition to the guitars, bass and drums, Ratboys also features a trumpet player who helps to further distinguish their sound. Most of the band’s material was from their 2017 album titled “GN,” including the song “Dangerous Visions,” which Steiner described as “the trippiest song ever written…by me.”
Steiner then introduced Diet Cig, who are touring together until Sept. 17. The band opened with their song “Sixteen,” an upbeat song with lyrics about the bitter end to a past relationship. Luciano’s airy, high-pitched voice stood out more than expected against the electric guitar and Bowman’s fervent and passionate drumming.
The energy in the room spiked soon after the duo began to play.
Whenever Luciano wasn’t singing, she was kicking, dancing and twirling around the stage, all while playing the guitar.
“She was great,” said sophomore art education major Haley Mosseri. “You don’t expect her to have so much energy just from looking at her.”
Crowd favorites in the set included 2015 singles “Dinner Date” and “Sleep Talk.” Both songs have much more relaxed verses that build to powerful choruses.
Luciano’s lyrics are straightforward, revealing and relatable — she had the crowd cheering louder after each song.
In between songs, Luciano — usually slightly out of breath from her performance — spoke openly and cheerfully with the crowd.
“This is the first day of our tour, so this show is really special,” Luciano said. “It’s really cool to start in New Jersey because we’ve only played here one other time and like two people showed up.”
Although the crowd was eager to hear what the bubbly Diet Cig lead singer had to say, Luciano concerned herself more with the music.
“I don’t have any witty stage banter,” Luciano said. “So I just want to say thanks for coming out!”
She also took the time to address interstellar goings-on.
“I want to congratulate everyone for making it through Mercury in retrograde,” Luciano said, her voice full of genuine glee. “I was starting to get worried this time, but we made it!
The band then played their song “Link in Bio,” from their 2017 album “Swear I’m Good at This.”
The song’s empowering and emotional lyrics manifested themselves in Luciano’s performance and resonated throughout the audience. The music and lyrics are simple, but it’s the band’s limitless energy that made it a real experience.
Before playing the song “Tummy Ache,” which features lyrics about double standards between genders, Luciano took the time to reassure students about their own creative endeavors.
“Growing up I was always having my art questioned and judged by people who didn’t like it,” Luciano said. “Don’t let them get to you, remember that your art matters.”
The band ended with their most well-known song “Harvard.” The band went all out for the finale, with Luciano jumping into the audience to dance with them and later lying on her back and kicking in the air while playing the final chords to the song. The three bands that night were memorable not only for their music, but for their demeanors as well.
“When they were talking to us they seemed so nice, almost awkward but in a good way,” Mosseri said. “Then when they start playing it feels totally different.”
The bands also sold some of their merchandise at the show, which included many stickers, shirts, CDs and vinyl records. The next CUB Alt show will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 15, in BSC 100W, and will feature the band Old Gray and more.