The Rogel Ballroom in the Michigan Union was transformed on Wednesday night into a colorfully-lit, almost unrecognizable concert venue in preparation for the Diet Cig and Palm concert, as brought by New Beat Happening, a student organization committed to bringing various musical acts to campus.
I was excited for this concert, especially because I was familiar with Diet Cig’s music beforehand. While not a devoted fan, I do have some favorite songs by them, including “Harvard” and “Maid of the Mist.” I was not familiar with Palm before the concert, though I did some research on them in advance and found a song or two that I also enjoyed.
Palm took to the stage first, immediately launching into their first song without any preamble. If there is anything to be said about their performance, it is the hypnotic, almost lullaby-esque, element that is maintained throughout. The songs blended into each other (the band had no pauses or gaps between their songs, maintaining a constant hum of sound, be it a droning bass or a steady drum beat as they set up for the next track), having the final effect of a long, monotonous stream of music that was punctuated by the occasional guitar riff or a faster scatter of drumbeats. The members did not really look at each other; they were very disconnected in that aspect. Instead, they all seemed more focused on the music, and would dip in and out of the melody with their contributions of guitar, drum, and bass notes, with the occasional discernible stream of lyrics.
In all honesty, their music was not really to my taste; however, I heard some very positive reviews from the people surrounding me, so perhaps mine is just a minority opinion.
In regards to the people attending the show, a nice crowd began to form as time went on, and only swelled in size as time came closer to Diet Cig’s performance. I spotted at least two girls with glitter on their cheekbones (one of the trademark aesthetic elements of Diet Cig) and a plethora of band shirts. Everyone seemed to be in a generally pleasant and excited mood for a Wednesday night, but that could also be because of their excitement and passion for music, which was palpable. To my left, a group of people were discussing different guitar models and brands of equipment, and behind me a pair was dissecting Palm’s performance into its various musical elements. It was really cool to be able to be surrounded by people with such tangible interest in music.
The crowd’s energy was kicked into overdrive as soon as Diet Cig (Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman) hit the stage. I heard more than one comment on Alex being like a fairy!, perhaps in regards to her short-cropped hair, infectious energy, the glitter smeared across her cheeks, her high-pitched voice, or some combination of all. Alex’s enthusiasm was so powerful and noticeable, radically different from the opening act, who hardly spoke to the crowd at all. In contrast, Alex interacted very openly with the crowd from the beginning, immediately letting everyone know that the show was a safe space, and addressed the importance of safety and consent during their performance, as well as where to find the people to talk to if you didn’t feel safe.
As I stated before, I was excited to see Diet Cig perform, as were the people surrounding me. There was lots of dancing and shouting, and Alex fed off of the energy; she not only sang each song with as much fervor and spirit as possible, she also danced, bounced, spun, and kicked her way across the stage. What makes Diet Cig’s music interesting is its way of addressing serious topics about interpersonal and personal relationships in a way that has the capacity to be both angry and joyful at once.
I am happy to note that my two favorite songs were played. I had a nice time, and am really grateful for New Beat Happening for arranging the show. I look forward to future events hosted by them.