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Girl In A Coma, Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, MN
This is rock and roll with staying power: free of gimmicks or antics.
14th September 2010, Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, MN | By Kerry Alexander | Rating: 8/10

There is something to be said for a group that proves you wrong. Nervous "hello"s echoing through speakers, a preliminary cymbal rustle, a lonesome bass thump; the audience holds its breath. Girl In A Coma, Lone Star State hailers, spark little reaction from the scattered crowd as they enter the stage at Minneapolis’ Triple Rock Social Club. And then, a single step towards the microphone, and the whole thing turns around. Big exhale. Bigger sound.

Girl In A Coma is actually three girls (none in a coma): sisters Nina and Phanie Diaz, (guitar/vocals and drums, respectively) and Jenn Alva (bass). Their sound is classic, a sort of velvet punk, executed with precision and spunk and speaking clearly to their influences (one part Smiths, one part Runaways). The set is dominated by fast-pace and Sid Vicious non-care, and though gruff transitions prove to be somewhat overwhelming, in general their plush, haunted house rock & roll feels weightless. Nina’s guitar hangs halfway down her body, cutting her frame in two, and as seductive song after seductive song begin to swarm, she manages an almost horizontal attack, strumming in the style of an air hockey strike. Alva, charming in her quiet confidence, rallies the group with consistent bass lines and eerie harmonies. And Phanie, though lost in the foray at the start of the show, comes fully into her own in the second, crashing triumphantly on cymbals and anchoring the out-of-this-world groove.

The group is perfectly cohesive (you can almost see the ties uniting these childhood friends), and yet, it is the star power of Nina that sets the group apart. Indeed, the force of her playing is outdone only by the glamour of her voice. Raw and inexplicable, it carries allusions to the likes of Edith Piaf (comparisons founded also on the incongruous statures of the 'Little Sparrow' and the petite Diaz), that is, if Edith Piaf had grown up idolizing Morrissey and Elvis. Her sound is brassy, and unpredictable, running the gamut of windy "oohs" and hurumphed "ahs". The highlight of the night, (introduced simply by Alva: 'Nina would like to play a love song for you') is 'El Monte,' a sweetly sombre number built on a plunky guitar riff, giving full reign to Diaz’ dynamic vocal eccentricities. Another favorite of the night is the group’s cover of Selena’s 'Si Una Vez,' which allows an intimate insight into the importance of the girls’ Mexican-American heritage.

Girl In A Coma were signed on the spot to Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records after Jett herself saw the girls perform live at New York’s Knitting Factory. In many ways, they have the soul that the Runaways never quite managed. This is rock and roll with staying power: free of gimmicks or antics. Nina’s stage presence shifts haphazardly between note-belting bared teeth (primed to bite down on the proverbial bat) and, interestingly, elaborate unease. She often scans the audience nervously, letting her eyes bulge like those of a child forgetting the lines of her 1st grade play. But the paranoia only adds to the sinking seduction.

The night ends perfectly with a cover of the Velvet Underground and Nico’s 'Femme Fatale,' a major chord romp over which Diaz croons the undeniable hook, "cause everybody knows (she’s a femme fatale)." Well, if they don’t know now, it’s only a matter of time.