Diet Cig / Daddy Issues The Drake Hotel Underground, Toronto ON, April 11

Diet Cig / Daddy Issues The Drake Hotel Underground, Toronto ON, April 11
Photo: Rick Clifford

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"Emotions are radical," said Alex Luciano just before launching into "Sixteen," the first song of Diet Cig's recent Toronto appearance. Though perhaps an understatement in today's culture of #wokeness, the sentiment perfectly encapsulated the message at the heart of the singer-guitarist's band, as well as that of openers Daddy Issues, who got the night off to a strong start.
 
Boasting Runaways attitude filtered through a KRS Records aesthetic, the Nashville trio were a perfect match for the headliners, tossing out barbs at jilted lovers and professing love for potential new paramours. Anchored by a strong rhythm section, their best song was "I'm Not" from their upcoming record Deep Dream, out in May. If the rest of the album is as strong as this, expect big things.

Feelings were, fittingly, front and centre in Diet Cig's 40-minute set; Luciano proclaimed solidarity with folks of all stripes, announcing that their gig was a "safe space," in case the anti-slut shaming theme of "Sixteen" hadn't made her position clear.
 
Even before their set started, Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman could be seen bopping up and down by the side of the stage, hyping one another for their performance. By the set's second offering, "Tummy Ache," Luciano was a wired ball of energy, bouncing off all corners of the stage, throwing in the occasional high-kick for good measure. While it may sound shtick-y on paper, in practice her boundless energy was the perfect pick-me-up for a mid-week crowd whose enthusiasm quickly mirrored hers.
 
What was even more impressive, however, was the duo's crisp delivery amid all this activity. Bowman never once dropped the beat, while Luciano's guitar riffs, though relatively straightforward, were precise, even when jumping off the bass drum or weaving her way through the crowd. Live, the similarities between many of her vocal melodies becomes more apparent, but Luciano never sounded off-key, even as she struggled to catch her breath between songs.
 
Short and to the point, Diet Cig gave a masterclass on caring and catharsis without forgetting the fun.