Brooklyn duo Diet Cig’s clever storytelling, chugging power pop, and punky spirit is reminiscent of the ’90s and early 2000s indie rock.
Its sweetness spiked with snark and irony would make riot grrrls proud, while singer/guitarist Alex Luciano has the tone and directness of early ’00s emo trio Rainer Maria. Her twee, jangly guitar pop tracks could’ve anchored Olympia, Washington-based K Records or Athens’ Kindcore label in the ’90s. But none of those influences went into making Diet Cig, who play Neighborhood Theatre Aug. 15 with Joyce Manor and Dollar Signs.
Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman were children when those underground bands percolated. Diet Cig draws on influences closer to home.
“Growing up in New York and coming of age here has influenced our music,” says Luciano. “You listen to certain things because you’re in a certain place. I went to college in New Paltz (where the band formed) and my first show was Frankie Cosmos. I saw Radiator Hospital (and thought) ‘These bands are awesome.’ They’re from the Northeast and it was inspiring to see other young people doing their thing.”
Diet Cig’s “thing,” which attracted the attention of bloggers and program directors at SiriuxXMU early on, is elevated by Luciano’s humorously autobiographical lyrics. There’s definitely a millennial perspective to her observations, but her stories are so detailed they’re also widely relatable.
“Dinner Date,” from its new 7-inch, begins “I’ll have the lamest date to the daddy/daughter dance” and takes off from there. The A side “Sleep Talk” ends with the heart-tugging refrain “If I told you I loved you/I don’t know who it would scare away faster.” On the group’s previous “Over Easy” EP, she chides an ex for taking up with an Ivy League girl in “Harvard.”
“We’re being honest,” she says. “It’s not coming from a place where I want to write a funny song. We take ourselves seriously, but we aren’t concerned with having a serious sound. We’re making music we like to play. (Humor) naturally plays into it.”
It’s a formula that resonates with crowds who show up singing and bopping along even though the band’s proper full-length won’t be released until 2017. The duo starts recording in October.
“You always think that band you’re in will be playing Madison Square Garden someday,” says Bowman, who played in less successful bands before Diet Cig. “We didn’t start thinking about our end goal. We just write songs and see what happens.”
Echoes Luciano: “At first we were both like, ‘People are listening to us? Really?’ It’s cool to meet people who our songs resonate with, who get and identify with what we’re doing.”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday
WHERE: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.