Sometimes it feels that God is smiling on me. Monday was one of those times.
When I photographed Girl In a Coma on Monday, everything seemed perfect. (Go here to view the photo gallery of their Oakland Concert) I learned about the performance the day of the show from a friend who lives out of the country. Another friend helped with an introduction. GIAC is also from San Antonio and I have a special connection to the city. Joan Jett signed the band to her Blackheart Records label. I love Joan Jett. (Lately, I have chased a few black hearts.) I needed a new roller derby photographer shirt for tomorrow. My GIAC T-shirt is covered with black hearts, lucky numbers and horseshoes. Oh, and the band was amazing. One day my friends (or kids) might ask me if I have ever heard of this new band Girl In a Coma with the mesmerizing lead vocalist/ lead guitarist…
They are THAT good.
I wish that my all-time favorite music critic, Ellen Willis, were still alive so that she could review the three woman San Antonio rock band. Willis wrote for The New Yorker in the 1960’s and 1970’s when rock was (more) male-dominated, and though Willis was a feminist, she loved rock music. Her social commentary is still relevant today (at least to old guys like me.) Willis appreciated rock’s history and rebellion. She also enjoyed charisma, so I am convinced that Willis would have loved GIAC’s performance at The New Parish in Oakland, California.
How charismatic were they? I am wondering how I can travel somewhere to see them again. I might give The Smiths another try. (Girl In a Coma named their band after The Smiths song “Girlfriend in a Coma.”) The band also has three awesome members who seem to enjoy each other. Despite The New Parish’s low light, bass player Jenn Alva effortlessly looked rock & roll. (see her blue shoes with the speaker) During the performance, drummer Phanie Diaz was hidden in the shadows, but she is an effective spokesperson. (She also sold me my new shirt.) Since this is rock, the band revolves around Phanie’s little sister, lead singer and guitarist Nina Diaz.
Nina’s voice is distinctive. Yearning. When GIAC covers Patsy Cline’s Walking After Midnight, I feel Nina searching for a lost lover. When Nina introduced the David Bowie cover “As the World Falls” she explained that she had been engaged previously… and the song had been “their song.” Bowie was never as vulnerable as Nina. (nor was he ever as powerful).
Girl In a Coma also cover Selena (Si Una Vez) and The Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale. Each cover was familiar but original. Very few bands can perform other artists’ songs effectively. How can a band play classic Patsy Cline, Velvet Underground, David Bowie, and Selena? Same band. Same awesome sound… and that is just a few of their covers. I love their covers.
I am old enough to remember Joan Jett, but I was only 13 when Joan Jett was singing about a 17 year old standing by a record machine. Now I am too old to describe Nina Diaz’s appeal accurately. If she were only the lead singer, I would remember her voice forever. If she never sang, I would probably remember her as a hot lead guitarist. She has so much style, I could watch her stand on stage and tell stories. Somehow, I forgot that she was a woman… until I remembered. Powerful.
A few more notes from Monday: Pinata Protest is another cool San Antonio band who often travels with Girl In a Coma. We talked about places I visited in November. I also talked about being a father with one band member who has a little kid. I hope he enjoys Father’s Day, whether or not he makes it back to San Antonio in time. Here are photos of their performance.
Note: On 7/27/15 I edited this post. There were a few grammatical mistakes and double spaces. Nina Diaz performs Wednesday in San Francisco. Perhaps I will have another article.