Girl in a Coma (with Justin Furstenfeld and Blue October): Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore, MD 4/1/12

Girl in a Coma is band that has shown tremendous growth since their debut five years ago.  While Both Before I’m Gone was a solid though not exceptional debut, it was the vast expansion of their sound on Trio BC and the significant dose of some good ol’ crazy on last year’s Exits and All the Rest, not to mention the ability to really make their mark on covers evidenced on 2010’s Adventures in Coverland, that makes them an incredibly exciting band.  Their ability to take their broader sound and really go off on Exits is what made this show so promising.

 As an opening act, Girl in a Coma only played nine songs, but they made their short set count.  Most of the material was taken from Exits.  While a longer set would have benefitted from some of Trio BC’s gems and perhaps even their amazing cover of Joy Division’s “Transmission,” this one still fully showcased their ability to cut loose and let the songs run wild without losing control.  Their cover of Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” did just what a great cover should.  It paid its respects to the original, but also gave birth to a new identity of the song.  The wildness of Exits was as pervasive as its songs and Girl in a Coma never backed down whether the song pulled from punk, alt rock, surf or Latin music.  They feared neither melody nor cacophony and used both to elevate their already strong tunes into something that simply cannot be appreciated on a record.

 Sadly, Girl in a Coma was sandwiched between an opening solo set from Blue October frontman Justin Furstenfeld and his full band’s headlining set.  The former’s self-conscious and simple songs, the best of which he claims to have written in middle school, and self-deprecating humor all set to guitar and beat box were easy to see through.  The latter’s grand entrance and light show was unable to hide the disingenuous truisms Furstenfeld peddled to the crowd between songs.  In the end, Blue October’s set was no more honest than Furstenfeld’s eye makeup and mohawk were edgy.  Perhaps Blue October needs a lesson in what makes live music important from their opener.  It just shouldn’t have been that easy to tell that they were pretending.

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