Photos by Isabella Le
Pierce The Veil is, without a doubt, one of the most impactful and withstanding acts in modern alternative music. Perhaps it’s controversial to say, but they might be one of the San Diego music scene’s most prized artists to date.
From its inception in 2006 until now, the now three-piece band has fought and earned its way to becoming perhaps the most iconic post-hardcore/alt-rock staple in 2023. Upon attending their Jaws of Life Tour finale at the Viejas Arena on December 8th, it couldn’t be clearer why (or how) they’ve built status as such.
This was not my first time seeing Pierce The Veil, as I had seen them play San Diego’s Warped Tour date in 2015, pre-Misadventures, pre-TikTok virality. Having grown up involved in emo circles online and being heavily influenced by the subculture’s inklings and propensities, I was aware that the band had already planted their roots as genre icons after the release of Collide With The Sky in 2012. After years of consistent success and fans left on the edge of their seats still wanting more (following a seven-year hiatus after their previous album), some may say that it’s only a matter of time before a band runs past their prime; but, what I can say after seeing them live eight years apart, is that the onstage energy has not at all faltered, nor has the love that fans pay them for their work and artistry.
The show opened with a performance by Destroy Boys, a Sacramento punk band whose nostalgic rock sound and infectious stage presence sent the crowd abuzz, priming the stage for the acts to come. Following was Orange County’s Dayseeker, donned in fitted suits, glitter, and face paint, whose captivating elegance was in direct juxtaposition to their raucous sound. Last, but not least, was a bombastic set by L.S. Dunes, a post-hardcore supergroup with an all-star lineup consisting of Circa Survive’s Anthony Green, My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero, Coheed & Cambria’s Travis Stever, and Thursday’s Tim Payne and Tucker Rule. With anticipation bubbling and energy at a fever pitch, hundreds of bracelet-adorned hands flew up behind our camera in preparation for the headliners taking the stage.
Arena lights dimmed. Beams of green shone toward the front stage. “El Rey” by Vincente Fernandez blasted from the speakers. Making an entrance that was nothing short of grand, the San Diego natives took the stage, opening with the pounding drums and feverish guitars of “Death Of An Executioner.” Energy and noise levels remained steady through “Caraphernelia,” “Circles,” “Pass The Nirvana,” and “A Match Into Water,” as lead singer-guitarist Vic Fuentes and bassist Jaime Preciado ran and leaped throughout the stage. Lead guitarist Tony Perry, laser-focused on intricate riffs and solos, showed his stage presence through technical skill and precision.
“We’re Pierce The Veil,” shouted Fuentes. “We’re from right down the street. There is no better place to be than the most beautiful place on Earth!”
Through an uproar of cheers and screams, things got sentimental as the three bandmates, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with acoustic guitars, geared up to play “Emergency Contact,” a slower track that embraces love, chaos, and everything in between.
As if emotions couldn’t get any fonder, the profound and poetic “Hold On Till May” followed suit, wherein Fuentes called a fan onstage to dedicate the song.
“This song doesn’t belong to our band anymore -– it belongs to you guys,” he expresses. Singing the bridge to the fan sitting on a stool, he gifts and sends them off with a signed red electric guitar. “It is an honour to be a part of your life through our music.”
Whatever love and gratitude the audience gave the band in the beginning was returned tenfold by the members onstage. It didn’t stop there though; what was originally supposed to be “12 Fractures” to follow was instead the fan-favourite, “Bulletproof Love.” If San Diego didn’t feel special already, we certainly did now.
“This is probably the most amazing show we’ve played in our careers, so thank you. We started playing SOMA and The Epicenter…” a starry-eyed Fuentes looks into the stands of the venue. “Thank you so much.”
But, it wouldn’t be in Pierce The Veil fashion to leave on a gentle and heartwarming note — the latter end of the show was jam-packed with all the high-energy hitters, from classics like “Hell Above” and “Besitos” to new additions “So Far So Fake” and “The Jaws Of Life.” Bright yellow confetti blasted from the stage to the stands as “King For A Day” served an utterly electrifying finale.
Leaving the venue on December 8th, I not only recalled the reason why I stuck around for so long, but ultimately, I was able to see the power of music in connecting people of such different backgrounds and ages. Whether it was a fan since “A Flair For The Dramatic” or a teenager who found the band through TikTok, the love evidently radiated from the barricade to the back. Music is one thing, but the humility, gratitude, and passion the members of Pierce The Veil share are in realms of their own; I’ll gladly wait eight more years if it means I can experience it all again.
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