The Show: Power trio Girl in a Coma blew into Alex's Bar like a fiery gust off the San Antonio plains last night.
Though all three musicians--drummer Phanie Diaz, bassist Jenn Alva and singer Nina Diaz--delivered a 14-song set flush with passion, energy and the tight musico-mechanics of a well-oiled machine, it was singer Nina who stole the show. Taking ambitious queues from such luminaries as Morrissey and Patsy Cline, Nina strummed with conviction, cooed with sentimentality, and crooned with a signature slur of her own invention through a set chock-full of punk anthems and heartbreaking lyrics.
At times, she sounded like a soulful country crooner; at others, her vibrating warble was reminiscent of a rapidly vacillating Theremin. While strumming away at her low-slung Telecaster, Nina's eyes darted back and forth across the room simultaneously maniacal and compelling, her white t-shirt and raven hair dripping with sweat. She is a standout talent, head and shoulders above a scene full of proliferating clones.
If the evening had one flaw, it was that the sound system at Alex's isn't sophisticated enough to allow for a decent mix to separate the subtleties of Nina's voice from the furious crunch of her guitar and the backing rhythm section. Quirky verses like those sung during the song "Static Mind" got lost in the shuffle and robbed the crowd of lyrical gems such as "Reasons not to leave/multiply like rabbits with hard drinks."
Though the more sedate acoustic jangler "BB," allowed for a proper demonstration of her range. In the end, any sonic issues the band may have encountered last night should prove to be of little consequence in the long run--these three gals have demonstrated fierce determination over the past 10 years. Nina, now 22, has been singing with the group since she was 13. With a little luck, the band's ship will arrive shortly.
Girl in a Coma was preceded by Gringo Star, Agent Ribbons and Long Beach's own Bella Novela who have been performing in support of their recently released debut LP, Battlelines. Bringing to the stage their unique blend of metal and prog-infused rock, these three played too early in the evening. Side note, if you get a chance to check out Bella Novela, take a gander at drummer Jannea McClure's percussive skills. You won't be disappointed.
Brandon Ferguson/OC Weekly
Personal Bias: I'm a fan of both Morissey and Patsy Cline.
Overheard: "The lead singer is shy until she gets on stage and explodes," said one fan in anticipation of Girl in a Coma's set.
The Crowd: A typically salty crowd at Alex's. It was packed to the rafters and full of masculine looking girls with Kate Gosellin hairdos. There were also more than a few young Latino men with facial tattoos. Though many looked like cholos, they pogoed in front of the stage like white boys.
Brandon Ferguson/OC Weekly
Joanie in the City
Walking (Patsy Cline cover)
As the World Falls Down
In the Day
Si Una Vez