As a teenager struggling with then-undiagnosed depression, high-functioning anxiety, and PTSD, listening to excessive amounts of anxious emo music was really the only way to express the chaos inside me. While there are a number of bands that have played a particularly poignant role in this period of my life, seeing Pierce the Veil live for the first time impressed me the most. It was the first time that, as a Mexican-American fan of a genre known for its whiteness, I felt truly seen and welcomed by the alternative rock community.
I bumped into the San Diego based band on April 6th, 2008 at the Bamboozle Left in Irvine, California. Young and naive, I had zero expectations when it came to big concerts. I had no parental supervision, $30 in my name (which I spent on a My Chemical Romance shirt instead of food), and was way too short to actually brave the pit. Instead, I wandered the festival grounds in search of free snacks and an empty spot to sit and enjoy the music.
Imagine my surprise when I wandered to the back of the amphitheater and found a quartet of post-hardcore musicians pouring their heart and soul into their set in front of a barely-there audience. While their music was enticing, it was the fact that the band was all Mexican-American that really drew me.
I was shocked to see a Latinx band perform at a major festival, and as I looked around at the tiny crowd that had gathered to listen to them, I was surprised that they all looked like me. It was quite a big moment of representation in my life to see that I wasn’t the only Latinx kid struggling with these overly big emotions. That night I went home and downloaded their album “A Flair for the Dramatic” onto my iPod and have never looked back. I would see them a few more times over the next 10 years on the Warped Tour and a few smaller shows in Southern California and New York.
While Pierce the Veil was never as big as Fall Out Boy or Panic! At disco, their fan base was incredibly devoted, and people from all over the world fell in love with the Mexican-American rockers. Still, it wasn’t until 2022 that I felt like they were finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Much like the success the band had on Tumblr in the late ’80s, social media had once again propelled the band to international popularity, with Gen Z taking their songs to TikTok and creating several unexpectedly popular trends.
One such trend was a sped-up version of “A Match Into Water,” in which the creators lip-synched using makeshift mics hanging from their ceiling. One user used a hanging bottle of nail polish for a trending video that has since racked up nearly 4 million views and 1 million likes. The creator commented on the video, saying they are being bullied for being “emo” for listening to PTV outside of TikTok trends.
Another much bigger trend was on the For You Page weeks and contributing creators who used transitions to boost the notes of the song “King For a Day,” which features Sleeping With Sirens lead singer Kellin Quinn. Some creators even went so far as to use it to switch between their before and after shots, like @annaxsitar, who has over 12 million followers, for her spooky beauty look of the season. The trend was so big that even stars like Lizzo and Landon Barker got involved. The trend’s popularity even propelled the song to No. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock chart a decade after its release.
“Our young fans have always been our main inspiration to make new music. We have infinite love and respect for them because they are the ones who come to the shows and listen to our music. They’re the ones who create music culture,” lead singer and guitarist Vic Fuentes told HuffPost of the unexpected TikTok success.
PTV capitalized on their revival among Gen Z emos, using the app to promote their latest single. “Watch out for Nirvana.” Unexpectedly, the announcement of this song helped their 2012 single “Bulls In the Bronx” go semi-viral – and Latinx fans celebrated the band’s much-anticipated return with aspects of their own culture. User @kenya_sophia danced folklorically to the song, which received over 2.2 million views and over 517,000 likes. It went so viral that the band actually invited to perform here on stage with them an upcoming concert.
“We try to represent our Mexican culture anywhere in the world,” Fuentes says of the band’s appreciation of their heritage. He wants to support this celebration of Mexican and other Latin American cultures by encouraging fans to show their pride at shows. “Whether it’s through our songs, playing traditional music in our live intros or Jaime [Preciado]our bass player, in his Mexico national team soccer jersey, on stage.”
It’s the band’s unashamed and ongoing support for their Latinx fans that has kept me listening to them for nearly a decade. Through their best and worst, the band has proven that they don’t let the commercial music industry tell them who they are. As their home newspaper said over 10 years ago, PTV is bringing “Spanish-tinged metal to the masses” with its “Mexi-Core” take on the pop-punk scene. And that still applies today.
“[Our culture is] an important part of who we are and that will never change,” Fuentes said. “We love seeing our fans raising Mexican flags at our shows and connecting with us in that special way.”