Girl in a Coma


I had a cool assignment for the Austin American Statesman the other night to photograph a local latina punk band — Girl in a Coma — who are an up and coming group, signed by Joan Jett’s Blackheart label, and just released their second album. It’s a pretty interesting story of how they came about. Two middle school girls, Phanie Diaz and Jenn Alva shared the same love of music, learned to play and spent several years trying to form a band that worked. One day, Phanie’s 12-year-old little sister, Nina, asked if they’d listen to a song she wrote. She picked up her sister’s guitar (which they didn’t even know she could play) and proceeded to belt out a song that blew them away. Girl in a Coma formed on the spot.

I photographed the trio backstage before their CD release preview concert. Nina is now in her early twenties, but still looks quite young and demure. Her bandmates, too, were quiet, down-to-earth and fairly laid back. The small table in front of the couch they relaxed on was filled with Taco Cabana cups and empty Red Bull cans, rather than beer cans. I was greeted with smiles and handshakes. They gave me their time to make a few portraits. And for a few minutes, I kind of wondered if they really were a punk band. They didn’t seem to have that edge I expected. “Cute,” I thought to myself. After all, this is San Antonio.

Then, they took the stage. Gone were the three polite young ladies I met backstage. These were women. Fierce, wild, and possessed by the music. They blew me away. They so rocked. I ended up staying for the entire show (I had only planned to stay for a few songs). The club the played was hot. Sticky hot. Like summer in San Antonio when the A/C isn’t working and you pack hundreds of warm bodies shoulder-to-shoulder. Within a minute of starting to play, the band was dripping sweat. So was I and everyone else. But it didn’t hinder the energy. Girl in a Coma seemed to get stronger as they played, feeding off the crowd and the heat and the sweat. I guess that sounds kind of gross.

Anyway…these are some photos from the show.


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