Girl in A Coma Show A Little Something At Hollywood Alley on Dec. 3

Wednesday afternoon, I spent at least a half-hour trying to convince a colleague that I wasn't crazy for getting excited about seeing Girl in a Coma. They're a fairly average band, he said. No, seriously, they've really got something, I said. Then I spent another half-hour trying (unsuccessfully) to convince a few friends they were worth going out on a Wednesday night (in Mesa, nonetheless) to see. And after their show at Hollywood Alley? Well, I'm convinced I was right - about GiAC being special, at least.

A three-piece grrrl punk band from Texas, GiAC is signed to Joan Jett's record label. As I wrote last week, they're got a great sound: a Sleater-Kinney edge, with those Jetty hooks we all love. They stopped by Mesa as a warm-up for their gig at the much more impressive Knitting Factory in LA on Friday. They've been through town before, building a nice little local fan base that turned out to see them play a late set (10:30 start time) on a weeknight.

Singer Nina Diaz's remarkable voice is the cornerstone of the band's sound, and she was on Wednesday night. Often compared to Morrissey - I would argue that's mostly because the band's name is a reference to a Smiths' song, not because she actually sounds like Morrissey - Diaz sounds equally natural in a full-on snarl or a delicate Debbie Harry "In The Flesh" coo. According to this interview on Suicide Girls (our preferred source on such things) she's also very young - either 20 or 21 - but you'd never hear it to her belt out the grown-up "Clumsy Sky," which she did near the end of their hour-long set. "Pleasure and Pain," a new song, and their ballad "Road to Home" were also standouts. Nina was by far the most animated on stage, her eyes growing in to saucers as she sang, while her sister, drummer Phanie Diaz, and bassist Jenn Alva played well but didn't around move too much.

The atmosphere left a little something to be desired. It was an impressive crowd, but with people slouched comfortably in high-back booths, there wasn't much energy. The sound at the Alley was also pretty tinny. I'm no acoustic engineer, but maybe it's a bad idea to hang sheet metal on the walls of a concert venue, even if it does look super punk rawk. And, really, $10 to see a band on a Wednesday night also seems pretty steep. I'd sure love to see these girls at The Yucca Tap Room, where there's always no cover, almost everyone standing and soft wood on the walls.

Alas, mine is not to book the shows, only to criticize them. --Martin Cizmar

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Girl in A Coma at Hollywood Alley on Dec. 3.

Better Than: Subscribing to Suicide Girls "for the articles."

Personal Bias: I'm always down for a little grrl punk.

Random Detail: I liked the lone star/Dallas Cowboys star stuck to the drum kit. More bands should make a nice little nod to the motherland on their bass kick.

Further Listening: I'm a huge fan of "Their Cell," which you can hear on their MySpace.

By the Way: "We really like this venue, so come support it," said Nina.

Photos by Jonathan McNamara