Heartthrob leather jacket. One scruffy, skinny-jeaned guitarist with a Fender Stratocaster. Another with a Fender Telecaster. A bassist in a snapback ball cap. Lothario, party life synth pop that leans on the ’80s. Profile-wise, a relative unknown in America but that’s appointment niche, Saturday afternoon BMI Stage billing. As such Rey Pila is a Vice-certified indie crew that poses a threat to bands like Twin Shadow, and that makes it one of ACL’s coolest brands.
The Mexico City band closed with single “No Longer Fun,” and sparked a passionate singalong from fans. About that base–a hearty crew of middle and upper class Mexicans. Brown bros in Tigres jerseys, fair-skinned bros in Barcelona jerseys. Several green “El Tri” shirts, and of course three waving flags. Makes sense: Mexico City is barely a two-hour flight from Central Texas, and also our fair region has seen a spike in migration this decade from well-to-do Mexicans ditching cartel violence in places like Monterrey.
The Mexico City roots are paramount to Rey Pila. Every word singer Diego Solórzano dispensed was an English-language lyric, but in between it didn’t take long to keep it real and speak in his native language, “I’m gonna talk to you guys in Spanish. It’s easier. So . . . How are you guys doing?”
Predictably, the Spanish address got roars of approval. Yet there is a clear commercial appeal to singing in English while homaging your favorite Pitchfork fodder (Rey Pila has worked with producers that crank out LPs from bands like Beach House, Wavves, and TV On The Radio), but it does make for some basic lyric writing: “hold me now it’s hard for me to say,” “every time I go to bed all the bad things come out,” “dance until you start a fight.”
But the dance floor pull of songs like
“Alexander” was irresistible. And in between the Brooklyn posturing the Mexican fans would blow up the front with cheerful, brotherly “Otra! Otra!” chants. Solórzano obliged and walked into the crowd long enough to high five and take selfies.