“I’m here for Magneta Lane, do you know anything about Girl in a Coma?”
From that question you might think that the guy next to me was asking about the opening act, but in fact, he was actually asking about Tuesday’s headlining band at The Garrison. I suspect that many of those in attendance were in the same boat, wondering what they would do after Magneta Lane’s set. Having been a long-time fan of GIAC, all I could say was “Trust me, they are worth hanging around for” and smirk on the inside.
Having followed each other for years, the two bands have formed a sort of mutual admiration society; it’s almost surprising that they haven’t shared a stage together before. On a superficial level, they have several things in common; both are young, all-female, indie trios, with leads who have distinct vocals, and both like their music melodic, edgy and loud. But their musical and performance styles are very different.
Toronto’s Magneta Lane have steadily been building a following and it has garnered them a few die-hard fans, including a few who travelled from South Carolina just to see them tonight. Lexi Valentine’s seemingly effortless vocal styling is similar to that of Julian Casablancas, only smoother and lush. Teamed with Valentine’s speedy guitar riffs and equally hard drums and bass from Nadia King and French (no last name), ML fill a void left behind by the indie “girl bands” of the ‘90s. Very exciting is the fact that the two best songs of the set were from an upcoming EP which appears to be even harder and faster than their previous efforts. Performance-wise, they were fairly solid though the tempo of one of the new songs needed to be adjusted a bit. While French was quite introverted and distant on stage, Valentine connected well with the audience who shouted for more when their short set ended.
The handful of audience members who left after Magneta Lane’s set are a sorry lot for having missed Girl in a Coma’s first headlining performance in Toronto. GIAC won everyone over within the first verse of the opening song, “Control”. Singer/guitartist Nina Diaz is very petite and almost unassuming until she puts on the guitar and steps in front of the mic, at which point the music possesses her and she’s larger than life. Out comes the now trademark wide, expressive ‘crazy-eyed’ looks as she teases, wails, and belts it out with a voice full of range and power. Within minutes, she was dripping with sweat.
From rockabilly-laden songs like “One Eyed Fool” to the bluesy rock of “Knocking at Your Door”, the band, which includes drummer Phanie Diaz and bassist/backing vocalist Jenn Alva, exhibited a range of influences and skill. “Knocking at Your Door” exemplifies the kind of song that sounds interesting when recorded, but really kicks ass when performed live. In a post-show chat with me, Nina admitted that a number of the songs on the new album Exits and All the Rest are best understood when heard live.
Other highlights of the set included El Monte and Ven Cerca which have become standard crowd pleasers. While Nina commanded a lot of attention, Jenn and Phanie were hardly in her shadow and certainly held their own. When I later asked the band what they thought of Canadian audiences, Nina smiled and said “They like to go ‘WOO!’”
And the guy who asked me about them earlier? He turned into the classic giddy fan, buying the CD, asking for autographs and posing for pictures. WOO indeed!
© Renee Saviour, Music Vice
One Eyed Fool
Pleasure and Pain
She Had a Plan
Knocking at Your Door
In the Day
Walking After Midnight (encore)
Photos of Magneta Lane and Girl in a Coma at the Garrison:
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