Nostalgia is dangerous, like chasing a drug you've developed a tolerance to. Happy yet false. Occasionally, however, looking back compels us forward. This past Thursday at the best-sounding venue in town was just such an occasion (and not only because the Spurs decisively bounced Houston from the playoffs).
If you've yet to hear of Girl In A Coma, you're likely not an avid reader of these pages. They're San Antonio's biggest baddest band and Nina Diaz our most distinctive powerful voice
. Announce a show of theirs at five o'clock on a weekday and you'll fill most any venue in town by the time they hit the stage that night. Heralded from coast-to-coast and beyond, they've long ago transcended the loathsome epithet 'local'. Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers fame has Nina's face tattooed above his elbow. When recently asked by Rolling Stone
, Iggy Pop cited Fea
as what he likes listening to these days – a "good punk band
" featuring GIAC bassist Jenn Alva and drummer Phanie Diaz. Both acts signed to Joan Jett's label. 'Nuff said.
The debut Both Before I'm Gone
, released 10 years ago and performed in its entirety
(in reverse order) at 502 Bar last week, bathes that idiosyncratic Latino love of The Smiths in a '90s alternative aesthetic of Nirvana, Weezer and Radiohead. Picture Selena wearing Doc Martins channeling Roy Orbison backed by the Sex Pistols.
To do the trio justice, anyone will tell you, requires seeing them live. At least one fan who began drinking a bit too early must pass out on a friend's shoulder before the encore; a cadre of proud loyal lesbians must take their rightful place in front; a shy music reviewer must offer to help load the van in the absence of roadies; a singular frontwoman must cut through the South Texas humidity like a Super Soaker fresh out the fridge.
Nevertheless, for a magical evening of rock 'n' roll, the crowd was less raucous than usual. We've grown up some, I guess. Surveying the packed room of familiar faces – among them, Pop Pistol's Alex Scheel and Blowing Trees' Chris Maddin – I gulp down some more nostalgia.
Too many of us cling to the past, sometimes with bottle in hand. But if you can stop living in what might have been, you instantly cease to be a has-been. GIAC turned angst, solitude, and heartbreak into a collective exploration that liberated us from lameness. The ship sails on, no longer trapped in a bottle.
(Let this review also serve as an open letter to the Spurs office: please ask Nina Diaz to sing the National Anthem before a Finals game. I guarantee a win.)