As a teenager struggling with undiagnosed depression, high-functioning anxiety, and PTSD, listening to excessive amounts of angsty emo music was really the only way I could express the inner chaos within me. While there are a whole host of bands that played a particularly poignant role during this time in my life, it was seeing Pierce the Veil live for the first time that had the biggest impact on me. It was the first time, as a Mexican-American fan of a genre known for its whiteness, that I felt truly seen and welcomed by the alternative rock community.
I stumbled upon the San Diego band on April 6, 2008 at Bamboozle Left in Irvine, California. Young and naive, he had no expectations when it came to massive concerts. I had no parental supervision, $30 to my name (which I spent on a My Chemical Romance t-shirt instead of food), and I was too young to face the chest. Instead, I found myself wandering the festival grounds in search of free snacks and an empty place to sit and enjoy the music.
Imagine my surprise when I wandered to the back of the amphitheater to find 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 appealing, what really drew me in was the fact that the band was composed entirely of Mexican-Americans.
I was surprised to see a Latin band perform at a major festival, and when I looked around the small crowd that had gathered to hear them, I was surprised to see that they all looked like me. It was a pretty big representational moment in my life to see that I wasn’t the only Latino kid struggling with these overwhelming emotions. That night, I went home and downloaded his album “A Flair for the Dramatic” onto my iPod and never looked back. I would go see them a few more times on the Warped Tour and a few smaller shows in Southern California and New York over the next 10 years.
Although Pierce the Veil was never as big as Fall Out Boy or Panic! In the nightclub, their fan base was incredibly dedicated, with people from all over the world falling in love with the Mexican-American rockers. Still, it wasn’t until 2022 that I felt like they were finally getting the recognition they deserved.
Much like the success the band found on Tumblr in recent years, social media had brought the band back to international popularity with Gen Z taking their songs to TikTok and creating several unexpectedly popular trends.
One such trend involved a sped-up version of “A Match Into Water” with the creators lip-syncing to makeshift microphones hanging from the ceiling. One user used a hanging bottle of nail polish in a trending video that has since garnered nearly 4 million views and 1 million likes. The creator commented on the video saying that they are bullied for being “emo” because they listen to PTV outside of TikTok trends.
Another much bigger trend was on the “For You” page. weeks and involved creators using transitions to amplify notes on 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 photos, like @annaxsitar, who has over 12 million followers, did for her spooky seasonal beauty look. The trend was so big that even stars like Lizzo and Landon Barker joined in. The trending popularity even made the song chart at no. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock charts a decade after its release.
“Our young fans have always been our main inspiration for creating new music. We have endless love and respect for them because they are the ones who come out to the shows and listen to our music. They’re the ones who create the music culture,” singer and guitarist Vic Fuentes told HuffPost about TikTok’s unexpected success.
Capitalizing on its revival among Gen Z emos, PTV used the app to promote its latest single, “Nirvana passes.” Unexpectedly, the announcement of this song helped their 2012 single “Bulls In the Bronx” go semi-viral, with Latinx fans celebrating the band’s long-awaited return with aspects of their own culture. User @kenya_sophia folk dance on the song, which received over 2.2 million views and over 517,000 likes. It went so viral that the band actually invited her to perform on stage with them a an upcoming concert.
“We try to represent our Mexican culture anywhere in the world,” Fuentes says of the band’s appreciation for its heritage. Their goal is to support this celebration of Mexican and other Latin American cultures by encouraging fans to show their pride at the shows. “Whether through our songs, playing traditional music in our live intros, or Jaime [Preciado]our bass player, wearing his Mexican national team soccer jersey on stage.”
It’s the band’s unabashed and continuous support of their Latino fans that has kept me listening to them for nearly a decade. At their best and worst, the band has proven that they won’t let the commercial music industry tell them who they’re supposed to be. As their hometown newspaper said over 10 years ago, PTV is bringing “Spanish-flavored metal to the masses” with their “Mexi-core” version of the pop-punk scene. And this is still true today.
“[Our culture is] an important part of who we are, and that will never change,” said Fuentes. “We love seeing our fans raise Mexican flags at our shows and connect with us in that special way.”