Live at The Belmont (Austin, TX)

by Nina Diaz

On Thursday night The Belmont hosted the first night of a 3-show residency by Nina Diaz, the singer/songwriter/guitarist/frontwoman of Girl in a Coma. At nearly ten minutes until showtime, the indoor venue was nearly at capacity.

The Painted Redstarts opened the show, and seemed a bit green. An up-and-coming young band, they’ve gotten some recognition throughout Austin due to frontman William Graham’s solo accolades. But onstage, Graham and guitarist Seth Jackson seemed tentative, looking into their microphones as if to avoid the eyes that filled the room.

The Painted Redstarts
Photography by Maurice

Their set got stronger as it progressed. Playing to a crowd clearly there to see Nina’s solo debut, The Painted Redstarts saved their stronger songs for last. “Curtains Wide,” perhaps due to its local airplay, energized both the band and the crowd. By The Painted Redstarts’ final song, The Belmont was packed—there was no moving from your spot.

For Nina, this solo residency marks a coming-out of sorts, providing fans their first glimpse of her true, authentic self as a musician and songwriter. Her musical career to date has been nearly a decade-long whirlwind. Nina joined her sister, Phanie, and Jenn Alva in Girl In A Coma at the age of 13. Joan Jett signed the trio to a record deal on the spot at a show they played in New York City’s renowned Knitting Factory. But with steady touring and recording since then, Diaz found herself as an artist without a substantial personal identity. With her GIAC bandmates currently on the road with their own new project, Fea, Nina gathered an all-male band to flesh out her solo work.

The moment the band took the stage, the crowd swelled in anticipation. She opened with an acoustic ballad, giving fans a taste of Nina’s unique voice and newfound solo artistry, with keyboardist Jaime Ramirez adding some delicate texture.

Credit to her band, they played not like a backing band at all. Their musicianship rivaled Diaz’ voice and presence, establishing themselves as an integral part of the music. The second song took on a more poppy twist, ending with Ramirez doing a Spanish rap. They slipped more than one cover song into the set (you’ll need to go to another show to discover which ones) and appeared to have a great time onstage.

While Nina’s voice helped define GIAC, her guitar playing at The Belmont showed that she has more talent in her arsenal than merely a pretty voice. And while an artist-gone-solo can oftentimes seem a bit lost or aloof without their regular band, Nina appeared completely in her element. Calm. Serene. And even having some fun. The audience fed off of her energy, embracing each new song as if they were longtime standards.

Nina Diaz will play two more residency shows at The Belmont: on June 18 with openers Little Brave (tickets for 6/18) and on June 25 with Hunter Sharpe (tickets for 6/25). Both shows start at 9pm. Tickets are $5 dollars in advance and $7 at the door. With the first show appearing to sell out day-of—and word of its success spreading—get your tickets quickly. The Nina Diaz solo project is not to be missed.

Posted on 6/17/14