NPR Tiny Desk Concert

 

Girl In A Coma: Tiny Desk Concert

January 30, 2012 The San Antonio trio gets back to basics to explore its songs' forms and the soul of its lyrics.

By Felix Contreras

One of the best features of our Tiny Desk Concert series is the occasional opportunity to hear a band perform its songs as they were written: with just an acoustic guitar and unamplified voices. That's the case with Girl In A Coma. In an interview, singer Nina Diaz said she writes the band's songs by closing herself off with just a notepad and her acoustic guitar. Which is slightly different than what we get on the band's albums: loud, crunchy guitars and seamless interplay between Phanie Diaz's drums and Jenn Alva's melodic bass work.

For the three songs Girl In A Coma performed during a recent stop in the NPR Music offices on a short East Coast tour, the San Antonio trio deftly gets back to basics to explore not just the form of its songs, but also the soul of its lyrics. You don't easily forget Nina Diaz's voice after you hear it for the first time, and as her songwriting skills grow, so do her vocal performances — it feels as if there's less effort and more emoting.

Nina's sister Phanie Diaz and bassist Alva pull off what I've found to be the Holy Grail of music-making: playing as one rather than merely accompanying each other. Being on stage for a long period of time with the same musicians creates a form of unspoken communication. Girl In A Coma's great songs and riveting performances all benefit from a sense that, while one member writes the songs, all three inhabit them.