The garagey outfit plays punk-tinged soul tunes for none other than badass Joan Jett's Blackhearts record label. Behind asymmetrical bangs and tattooed biceps were heartfelt songs of longing -- or lust, according to lead vocalist/guitarist and all-around firecracker Nina Diaz. We learned some Spanish ("gracias" means "thank you"; "Ven Cerca," a gorgeous song about the aforementioned longing and lust, translates as "come close to me"). We danced. We worshipped at the altar of the power chord. We were treated to material from the girls' latest release, "Exits and All the Rest," and smaller helpings from "Both Before I'm Gone" ("Consider") and "Adventures in Coverland" ("Come On, Let's Go").
If you have ever wondered how much noise a triplet of barely-drinking-aged women can make with a short stack of amplifiers, the answer is: plenty. My eardrums are still humming from Jenn Alva's rockabilly-inflected bass lines and Nina's impressive pipes, which ricochet from a smoky croon to all-out, heart-shattering wails in a matter of seconds.
It was impossible not to engage in any one of the following during this show, including but not limited to: pogoing, fist pumping, over-the-head hand clapping, side-to-side swaying, head banging, generalized shimmying and shaking. Feedback from Nina's guitar had barely faded when her sister Phanie, holding steady on the drums, crashed into the next punk ballad, song after song. The rhythm and raw energy, coupled with Nina's unholy roar, conjured up memories of early, "Arkansas Heat"-era Gossip. By turns riot grrl and serenaded blues, Girl in a Coma is a band to see live, despite its no-frills stage presence.
It's no surprise that the the band has built up a loyal -- some might say feverish -- fan base during its several trips to St. Louis. After a tight 45-minute set (no encore? Really?), the bandmates hung around their merch table, graciously signing CDs and posing for photograph after photograph with what appeared to be every single person in attendance.
Clutching t-shirts and posters, fans stumbled out of the Firebird with punk rock flowing through their bloodstreams. Viva girls and guitars!