Mexico’s Little Jesus returns stateside at Neon Desert Music Festival

Neon Desert Music Festival El Paso

EL PASO – Mexico City-based indie rock group Little Jesus held a rare stateside performance at the Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso on Saturday, appearing on a bill with rock and rap luminaries At The Drive-In, Third Eye Blind, and Lil Wayne.

“It was great to play here in the states and see the people dancing and singing along to our lyrics,” singer Santiago Castillas told the Big Bend Sentinel after they played to the large El Paso crowd. “We’re used to seeing it in Mexico, but it’s really special to see in another country, where people mostly speak another language.”

The band has been busy writing new material for their follow-up to their acclaimed 2016 album, Río Savaje, while continuing to tour their native Mexico and other parts of the world.

“We’ve been very lucky with our music. When we started playing, the scene in D.F. wasn’t what it is now. We started playing to 10 people and now we see large crowds,” Castillas said of their humble beginnings. “We’ve also been lucky to have had friends like Coloncho [who also appeared at the festival] make it with us.”

The band has received critical acclaim for their pop-rock, which blends jangly, dancey rock n roll with Latin rhythms, crossing boundaries in Mexican rock.

“It just comes naturally. We grew up with both the afro beats of Mexican music and the distortion of rock. We didn’t really try to mix, it just happened,” drummer Manuel “Truco” Sánchez Rucobo said. “It’s also good because we don’t box ourselves in with a sound. We can do what we want and it doesn’t get stale. I mean, listen to our first record and then listen to the last and they’re very different.”

During their time as a band, the singer said, they have come through the states on several occasions, with several appearances after the 2017 U.S. Elections.

The change in administrations and the vitriol toward Mexican Nationals, he said, has not affected the band’s fan base, though they do take precautions when on U.S. soil.

“Every time we’ve come, the people have been amazing. We’ve never had anything hateful said to us, although we’ve heard things from the people who host us and what we hear on the news,” he said. “Maybe we’ve just been able to avoid the worst people. We attract the good ones. We do make sure to be extra polite at checkpoints, though.”

Rucobo also stated his love for playing in the United States.

“The people we meet are always great. They dance to our music and show us nothing but love,” the easy-going drummer said, adding they had shows in Phoenix and Los Angeles booked. “We always look forward to coming in to play and we really hope to come back to El Paso.”