Nineteen-year-old Arizona heartthrob Luis Coronel sleeked onto the Tito’s Vodka revival tent Saturday afternoon to a chorus of screaming, largely Latina teenagers. His six-piece band shouted out Mexican flags, and lifted up proceedings with scattered Bachata covers, plus a charged rendition of Jennifer Lopez and Pibull’s World Cup anthem, "We Are One."
Coronel’s bilingual banter was continuous and accommodating at Austin City Limits: like taking an international flight and having the same sentiments tossed your way in back-to-back languages. He’d offer up "una cancioncita muy romantica," and then tells us he’s about to do a love song. Behind him, an accordion player hammered out one mesmerizing solo after another.
He’s a rising star with a strong national profile–Coronel took home "young artist of the year" at the Latino Billboard awards last year–and here played for curious, patient blanket-dwellers and, well, rowdy kids. During a cover of Enrique Iglesias’s "El Perdon," he leaned on the song’s pleading fame and asked for top-of-your-lungs singing from his patrons. The winner got his signed blazer.
Coronel dressed in shiny pants and a black button-down dress shirt. He looked like he was about to give a PowerPoint presentation. But also sharp, mature, and like a developing balladeer cut from the romantic cloth of Latin American giants like Luis Miguel. Lyrics were surprisingly lived in for a teenager and included "having you in my life is the best thing that ever happened to me."
"Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be on this stage," Coronel said. "Gracias."
The kid is a former boxer and touted his humble roots. His percussionist asked where his "paisanos" were at. This was a set here to make people in El Tri soccer jerseys feel represented. He spoke about how surreal it was to make the ascent to a predominantly English-language festival. He even played with its youth culture in a rare break from his loverman serenade, asking if we were going to "turn up or what?"
Even here, a brown kid in a Toronto Raptors NBA jersey awaiting Drake was in the audience to remind us what ACL Saturday was all about. He also continued a somewhat disturbing pop tradition of singing love songs to very young girls: literally. Coronel brought out a girl who must have been in middle school and sang to her on stage. It’s a perpetual teen idol move, but singing that the muse of this song, "Mi Niña Traviesa," will "always be the one for me" made for an awkward juxtaposition.
He closed with "Quiero ser tu dueño," the title track off last year’s release, and yeah that means "I want to be your owner." Comical patriarchy notwithstanding, the mature love ballads are crafted with expert staying power.