Diet Cig @ Union Transfer

WRITTEN & PHOTOS BY: Kelsey Sheppard

Saturday March 3rd the wholesome pop punk duo Diet Cig took the stage at Union Transfer. Originally this show was scheduled to be played at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, but due to a storm the night before the power had been knocked out at the church. Despite a venue change and cold temps, Philly still decided to show out for the high energy show that Diet Cig had planned.

Opening up the night The Spook School preformed a high energy set discussing issues of gender identity, masculinity, and falling in love with a comedic twist. The indie pop band based in Scotland, welcomed the crowd and had their drummer do most of the talking. Countering the usual leadership assumed by the lead singer seen in most American bands. By this time, half of Union Transfer was barely filled. The energy of the crowd started out low, but The Spook School’s drummer was able to get the growing crowd pumped up for the next act.

Following The Spook School’s performance came Great Grandpa. This indie rock group from Seattle, Washington brought forth the same energy as The Spook School, but in a ferociously sad sense. Alex Menne, the group’s lead vocalist, delivered a beautiful heart wrenching performance that displayed her range of voice and emotion. At multiple points during the performance she reached a screaming pitch that made me feel almost guilty for bobbing my head along to a song that seemed to be so intimate and personal to her. The crowd seemed to be in awe of the band as the dancing ceased and everyone stared in awe and appreciation at the emotion she was able to convey. After devouring all of our hearts, Alex kicked off a peppier song to end their set and jumped into the crowd to dance with all of us. It was perfectly timed relief from the heaviness of the previous songs and got the energy back up to a bobbing head level.

By the time Great Grandpa finished their set, Union Transfer was packed, but if I am being honest the energy seemed so relaxed and sleepy. As Diet Cig took the stage the first few rows cheered, but everyone else lazily clapped. Alex Luciano, the lead singer and guitarist, cheerfully greeted everyone as her layers of glitter shimmered in the light she appeared to be the most adorable punk fairy to walk this earth. Before playing Alex stressed the importance of having fun, but being respectful of everyone’s space. She stressed the importance of consent and that every single person here needs to have a good time. I had never heard any other artist mention this before a show and so my growing obsession with this band shot up at least seven notches after that statement. As she began playing the first song “Sixteen” the crowd lit up and the energy returned. Though it is important to note that everyone was respectful and you could tell that everyone in the crowd was here for the music. To appreciate it, to celebrate the art that is music. No one was pushing or obnoxiously filming the entire show. Everyone seemed hypnotized by Diet Cig and their melodic set.

Time seemed to fly by as Diet Cig played through the set, pausing only a few times to thank everyone for being there, acknowledge the sadness of this show being the last on their tour, and to reiterate the message that “Rock n’ Roll is for everyone!” I wished that the show would last forever and the energy of acceptance, love, and appreciation demonstrated by all three bands and the crowd would never end. After seeing this show I am an even bigger fan of Diet Cig and will definitely be checking them out on their next tour!


Set list:

  1. Sixteen
  2. Leo
  3. Dinner Date
  4. Sleep Talk
  5. Breathless
  6. Pool Boyz
  7. Apricots
  8. Maid of the Mist
  9. Link in Bio
  10. Unknown New Song?!)
  11. Bath Bomb
  12. Barf Day
  13. Bite Back
  14. Tummy Ache
  15. Blob ZombiE
  16. Harvard
  17. Closing Time – a Semisonic cover