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May 9, 2012 / riotgrrrlrevolution

Punk Rock Wisdom

This week couldn’t have had a better kickstart than seeing Girl in a Coma live. I saw them a few years ago shortly after Trio BC had been released and the song Static Mind had quickly become one of my favorite songs. They were at Burt’s Tiki Lounge and it was amazing. Small-ish crowd, but I was near the stage and I remember having the time of my life, jumping up and down as you do at shows where the energy can’t be contained. I remember Nina Diaz’s performance being especially stellar. So when I realized that Girl in a Coma was going to be in town and reminded myself that it would be ridiculously stupid to miss them, I got excited. I convinced a friend who wasn’t too familiar with the band to join me on a night that promised to be full of great music and she went with it, intrigued.

The night turned out to be better than expected. I hadn’t been following the tour, so I had no idea that Girl in a Coma was traveling with some amazing musical support. My friend and I actually got to the venue late, so we walked in in the middle of Sara Radle’s set. Until that evening, I had never heard of Sara Radle, but I was immediately impressed.

 This is a woman who knows her guitar, knows how to mix catchy pop hooks with great songs, and has a beautiful voice and stage presence. Her backing band worked well with her songs, and even threw in character antics of their own (at the end of the set, the drummer stood up on the drum kit, freaking out my friend who happens to be a drummer herself). It turns out Sara Radle is no stranger to the music industry. She’s been working out of San Antonio, TX since the 90s and was a member of several bands in addition to her solo work.

One of those bands happened to be the reunited Rentals in 2005, where she had the opportunity to work with Matt Sharp (ex-Weezer bassist). Radle recently released her fifth solo album, Same Sun Shines, which is fully hers. Every instrument on the album was done by her, and she even went so far as to own the process of engineering and mixing. What better way to get exactly what you want to hear than through making something yourself?

If you are not familiar with Radle–I definitely recommend checking her out. She is an amazing musician and well worth spending some time with. Or better yet….money. You can buy her newest album or other albums in her discography online.

The band that followed Sara Radle was completely different. Once again, this was not a band I was prepared for, but whoa, they were absolutely incredible. If you’ve read my previous blog entry, then the name Piñata Protest should already register for you. At that moment in time, I had NO idea who they were, but oh was it impossible not to be affected by their intense, frenzied accordion powered punk/rock/tejano/pop music. Oh you don’t speak en espanol? Neither do I, but this is a band that continues to prove that good music is recognizable, even when you don’t understand the words. They are a band that is in your face, and living proof that musical cultures can combine to create something powerful. And live they are impossible to resist. If you’re not dancing, then you can’t be in that room, because the energy is just that intense. Another reason a band like Piñata Protest is so important is they are part of a cultural revolution in the United States and within the punk scenes. This is a band that not only refuses to apologize for its heritage, but embraces it, and creates a continuous evolution of what that traditional sense was. This is a band that is unapologetic and completely revolutionary. To catch you up to speed if you missed my earlier blog entry: Piñata Protest is a band originally brought together by  Álvaro del Norte–a self taught punk-rock accordion player with mad skills-and drummer JJ Martinez. They play tight, fast accordion fueled punk and are wonderfully humble. If you have a chance to catch a Piñata Protest show–GO. Support this band. Share this band with your friends. These guys are onto something amazing.

After everything I’d seen before it was hard to be overwhelmed by Girl in a Coma. My mind had already been blown a few too many times over, and I had such a blast, especially while Piñata Protest was onstage. Dancing while they are onstage is not an option, it’s pretty much mandatory. Girl in a Coma was unquestionably amazing. My only disappointment during their set had absolutely nothing to do with them, and absolutely everything to do with what was wrong with the audience. If you’ve ever seen Girl in a Coma you know that lead singer/guitarist Nina Diaz is a showstopper. Once she is on the stage, music is more than just another experience, it’s a sacred ritual. Her energy high and you can’t help but to feel that she is giving you everything. Music is not a thing she does, it is THE thing. It’s intense. 

And you don’t respond to that by standing there. The amount of people in the audience that just stood, maybe nodding a little, and barely smiling blew me away. Girl in a Coma has been making great music since day one, and continuously growing and developing as musicians, and their show was incredible, and here were people in the audience barely acknowledging the power that was being given to them.

As an audience member and as a longtime fan of the band, I was disappointed. And it leads me to the point of this entry, which many of you probably saw on facebook or twitter. I know rules are terrible and restrictive and limiting and all that stuff….but this one isn’t. This one is a real piece of what I’ll call punk rock wisdom learned here at this Girl in a Coma show at Kilby Court. It’s a rule that I’ve had to come to terms with, just because of the way I am, but it’s something that I think is about as undeniable as breathing.

If you’re at a concert where the band is giving their everything to you, and if it’s a band you like/love or even just a band that is moving you in some way–musically, lyrically, whatever–SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION. Let the band know that they are up on that stage for a reason. Let go of your inhibitions. Give into the music. And dance. Jump. Mosh if it’s allowed or that kind of show. Do something.

And if you don’t leave as sweaty as the band….then you’re doing it wrong.

And on that note–I’ll call this entry good and leave you with a few videos and links so that you can explore the bands and their music in more detail. Also remember how I mentioned the friend I went with to the show with was not actually familiar with Girl in a Coma? Well. I’m happy to report she left a convert, believing fully in the power of Girl in a Coma.

With no further ado….a few links for your perusal:

Sara Radle:

Piñata Protest

Girl in a Coma

(If you’re a fan of GiaC you’ll notice there’s one song from each of their albums here…. : )

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