Diet Cig: Headrow House, Leeds

Slop-pop duo Diet Cig return to the UK bringing their good vibes and millennial anthems to excited ears across the pond. Coming off the release of their hotly anticipated debut album “Swear I’m Good at This”, I caught the high energy New York pop-rockers in top form on the Leeds stop of their tour.

First up though were Edinburgh four piece The Spook School playing a exceptional set of their fun, guitar-driven indie tunes, which explores themes of gender, sexuality and queer issues. The crowd really responded well to their performance and by their second song, ‘Burn Masculine’, everyone in the room was moving.

Every song had a strong message, whether it be about the confusing nature of sexuality, the lack of binary in gender or overcoming your abuser as the victim of domestic violence. However, despite the serious nature of some of the lyrical themes, the music that accompanies them is usually tinged with a sort of cheerful innocence and positive vibes. By the end of their set, The Spook School had flooded the venue with a noticeably positive atmosphere and had perfectly primed the audience ready for the headliners.

Now it was time for Diet Cig to take the stage. Before plunging into their opener ‘Sixteen’, vocalist/guitarist Alex Luciano took to the mic to give a quick disclaimer that the show was a “safe space” and warned not to touch anyone without their consent. Unfortunately, more and more incidents are making this kind of verbal warning necessary; and for a band with a prominent LGBT fanbase, it was great to see them taking a stand against this kind of behaviour.

Despite it being week seven of the tour, the duo commanded the stage with no lack of energy or enthusiasm and played a show full of their signature short, sweet and upbeat crowd pleasers. Everyone was visibly enjoying the headline set from the get go, and those who knew the lyrics were singing them loudly in unison with the band.

Between songs Alex took the opportunity to give the crowd little pep talks on not letting people tell you that your art isn’t any good and encouraging everyone to love one another (this before playing a great live rendition of ‘Apricots’). It’s these little touches coupled with their upbeat music that created an atmosphere in the room that was really relaxed and happy: I’m certain people left the venue a lot happier than when they entered.

Keeping the energy at a ten all the way to the finish, Alex ventured into the crowd at the climax of their closing song ‘Harvard’ (unlike with other crowds, she wasn’t pulled apart by a frenzied swarm of people upon entry). Once the band had finished their final song, they gave a thank you and departed the stage without returning for an encore: on the upside this gave the fans some more post-gig face time with the band.

Diet Cig give an exceptional live show bursting with energy, enthusiasm and infectious positivity. Night after night the band give the crowd everything they have and yet they still manage to make it out to the merch table after their set for a chat with anyone willing: it’s nice to see that despite their success they still have massive respect for their fans. If the band happen to be stopping in a city near you, seeing their live show is an experience much more valuable than the price of the ticket.

(Main image copyright Andrew Benge from This Must Be The Place, 30th May 2016)