On Sunday, the five-man band from Mexico City (drummer Sebastian "Zoell" Farrugia is from Tijuana) known as Rey Pila made its debut at the Soda Bar, one of three stops on its Going to California tour.
I was surprised when I looked at the night's bill, which featured Rey Pila as the opener. Opening act? This is a band that just played before a sea of an audience at Vive Latino 2014 (Mexico's Coachella) and has toured in Asia and Europe. Could it be that San Diego is that behind in what's cracking in indie music?
When former Los Dynamite frontman, Diego Solorzano, set out to create a solo project in his hometown of Mexico City, he hoped for something organic and fulfilling. The project grew into Rey Pila, an epic sounding indie crossover act that seamlessly makes the nostalgic sound of the Cars feel so 2014-now. As he did in his Los Dynamite days, Solorzano wrote en Ingles - "It's always been natural for me to write in English," Solorzano said.
Like The Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers, Solorzano has a chameleon-like fashion sense and visceral songwriting capabilities. And now that he's shaved the beard and chopped off his shoulder-length big-hair curls to a minimal undercut, we can finally see Solorzano's boyish good looks, too. During my interview with Solorzano, he joked about his drastic haircut being a last resort to prevent his mane from being invaded by creepy crawlers during Rey Pila's tour of China. Ay!
We also talked about their getting signed to Julian Casablanca's (the Strokes) label, Cult Records; the journey of becoming a killer crossover Mexi-CAN en Ingles band in America.
I wrapped up my interview (to be seen in an upcoming SoundDiego episode) with the fellas of Rey Pila at 8:45 p.m. Considering the terribly low traffic that made its way into Soda Bar for their set a half-hour later, I thought how much it would suck if they played their contagious synth-rock music to only myself, my cameraman and Soda Bar staff, plus the three cute girls sitting patiently in a booth. Rey Pila started with a minor line check and went into "Blast."
The sound just wasn't right on, right on. It was a blessing in disguise, because the band took a short break to correct the audio of each instrument. When they re-took the stage, performing "Nerds," more people started filling the room. By their third song, "Alexander," the audience was mesmerized, undoubtedly due to Solorzano's natural ability to connect with a crowd.
With my Rey Pila research done, I saw what a well-crafted band they were, but the real test would be if it translated onstage in San Diego. That night, Rey Pila confirmed that they are the whole package. This opening act was even cheered on for an encore (yes, they were that insanely good). Rey Pila capped us off with the perfect outro, "No Longer Fun." And, indeed, once they were off the stage, it was no longer fun.
Stay tuned for Dita Quinones' exclusive with Rey Pila in an upcoming episode of SoundDiego, on NBC 7 after Saturday Night LIve.
Dita Quinones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino, Filipino and hip-hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, Fox News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, San Diego CityBeat and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or on Facebook.