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Girl in a Coma at Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto – Gig Review, Photos and Setlist
April 15, 2010
By Brian Banks
Gig/Concert: Girl in a Coma
Venue: Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: 14 April 2010
Headliners: The Wedding Present
In One Word: Personality

This was a night for quick introductions, as first of all Girl in a Coma warmly introduced themselves to my aural aural anatomy with the tastiest new morsel of ear candy I’ve had in a while. I’ll say that again in plainer words for the benefit of anybody translating this from English to Finnish: This was my first Girl in a Coma gig and they’re just a bit good!

I’d first heard about this band just a couple of days previous and I was recommended to come check them out. A quick visit to GiaC’s Myspace page was enough to get me curious and then seeing the band live at the Horseshoe they more than met expectations.

I’d arrived during the first song and was immediately struck by the vocals of Nina Diaz, lead singer and guitarist of this female rock trio from San Antonio, Texas. She truly has a unique voice and throughout the set this was demonstrated as Girl in a Coma played through the varying styles that their music encompasses. In one song, “Pleasure and Pain”, the vocals matched the guitar as it goes from punchy to wailing, a rocking tune, one of the most amped of the evening, then in complete contrast her voice was tender and all aquiver for the beautifully melancholy “El Monte”, a real slow song that had me leaning up against the wall while enjoying some choice lyrics like “I want to suck all of your toes and love you when you’re feeling low”. I always like a band with some weirdness and quirkiness to their music, and lyrically there is a lot of Morrisey-esque oddness going on, with the band’s very name being a nod to the Smith’s song “Girlfriend In A Coma”. Nina showed another dimension to her voice when she sang in Spanish for the set-ending “Ven Cerca”. The one thing constant throughout all the songs was the amount of unbridled personality that Nina Diaz channels through her vocals.

Nina Diaz naturally assumes the role of rock chick lead singer and has the good looks, expressive eyes (from sultry to crazed) and full-throttle energy to accompany that voice. She exudes personality in her role but that’s not to blank the other two band members, and Girl in a Coma very much gave the impression of a group who are together and close, with the kind of tight performance you’d expect from a band who formed as school friends and siblings some ten years ago. The drummer Phanie Diaz is the sister of Nina, while the bassist and backing vocalist Jenn Alva completes the line-up. Girl in a Coma shift among many different styles and it’d be futile to pin them down with any specific label, but while they may be a bit of a rock n’ roll chameleon, they are both held together and distinguished by that distinct vocal and the grooves that they build around it.

Having just been introduced to the music of Girl in a Coma, I was enthused enough to introduce myself to the girls behind the music. I did an impromptu and spontaneous interview with Girl in a Coma downstairs in the basement of the ‘shoe while upstairs the main event The Wedding Present got started with their set. [That interview will be published in the next few days, watch this space.]

I’ve never been interested in the The Wedding Present, everything I’ve ever heard from them I’ve found boring, and while I’ll have to give them credit for a sweaty and fully committed performance, David Gedge and the younger generation cohorts who completed the line-up failed to change my opinion of the band. The most memorable moment of their set was hearing the voice of the great John Peel whose iconic tones were played as a segue between two songs, with various snips from the radio of him mentioning The Wedding Present. John Peel did indeed champion The Wedding Present, but he also championed the much bigger and more famous band The Fall, a band who are a bit more interesting and who were famously his favourite band of all. I’m too young to have listened to Peel any earlier that the latter half of the 90’s and up till his final years, but he turned me on to so many great bands and remains a big inspiration to me and many others I’m sure… damn, he is missed!

I digress, the Wedding Present were not my cup of tea but most of the other people seemed to find it less than boring, especially the bloke in a group of about six or so guys who kept removing his shirt to swing it around his head. I’m skeptical as to whether the Wedding Present would’ve managed to pull a crowd like this back home in the UK, and I suspect there were a lot of middle-aged expats in attendance tonight who were happily taking a little stroll down memory lane.

© Brian Banks, Music Vice