Review & photos by Andrew Bansal
January 28th 2017, Union, Los Angeles CA: Touring to promote their freshly released third full-length studio album and Roadrunner Records debut ‘Forever’, fast-rising Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania metallic hardcore group Code Orange are currently on a US headline run with Youth Code as main support, plus regional and local openers differing by territory. The tour arrived in Los Angeles last night at the aptly chosen Union nightclub in the mid-Wilshire area, featured Disgrace and Momentum as opening acts, and played to a packed house to put forth quite the exemplary exhibition of extreme music that was very much up the alley for attendees that had turned up in huge numbers.
Formerly known as Jewel’s Catch One, Union is a fine establishment as a venue by itself, but it is located in a neighborhood that can be described as sketchy at best, and an average concertgoer not used to venturing to these parts of town is probably filled with a bit of an uneasy, unsettling vibe. This makes it an ideal setting for a hardcore show, and all inhibitions are truly let loose once the live music is in full flow and the bands are doing what they’re supposed to do. Most ticket holders were already inside the building before the start of the show, and anticipated carnage on stage.
Starting proceedings a few minutes prior to 8 PM, Los Angeles based metal-hardcore crossover group Momentum played a short and precise set and established the precedent for what was to follow. Mostly playing material off of their 2016 debut EP ‘Bliss’, all five members of Momentum brought good energy and aggression to the stage, all while showcasing themselves as a group of musicians that can, in fact, play their instruments. The crowd was into the circle pit and hardcore dancing action right from the outset, further proving that Momentum turned out to be the correct choice as the local opening act for this bill. This is still a very new band, of which much more will be seen and heard in the years to come.
Shortly after came LA/Orange County death metal/hardcore band, Disgrace, featuring Taylor Young (Nails, Twitching Tongues, ex-Crematorium) as the vocalist, his three band mates also well versed in this sub-genre, being former members of Twitching Tongues and/or current members of Creatures. The hardcore element was very much at the forefront, owing to Young’s vocal delivery and stage persona as well as the fierce rhythm section, but the metal was just as equally prominent, mainly because of the riffs and solos that flowed from Kyle Thomas’ guitar. The energy and intensity in the crowd had heightened in comparison to what it was during the Momentum set, and Disgrace fed off of it perfectly. The bands produced by the LA/OC metallic hardcore underground over the years is truly something for locals to be proud of, and marching on relentlessly since 2011, Disgrace is one such band that rightfully got the spotlight they deserved here at Union.
Touring with Code Orange for this entire run of dates but proudly based in Los Angeles, two-piece EBM/industrial act Youth Code was up next. Comprising Sara Taylor on vocals and Ryan George on synth, programming and backing vocals, Youth Code can perhaps also be termed as electronic hardcore, and certainly fits a hardcore lineup more than a metal bill. Comparing this performance to their most recent hometown appearance at the Troubadour opening for Swedish metal band Tribulation in August 2016, it was clear that even though Youth Code didn’t even have to try as hard on this occasion, they were equally intense and relentless both times. This relatively larger stage gave Taylor greater freedom to express herself, which she did, while her partner-in-crime Ryan George was the man expertly controlling the music all by himself. The crowd was getting into the EBM dance moves, even as many in attendance simply stood and watched curiously. Youth Code is, in every sense, inimitable when it comes to their musical style and setup, and always being the odd one out on any lineup will, in the long run, work in their favor.
The best quality of a hardcore show is the minimal dead time, and this event was no different in that sense, as so it moved along swiftly with short sets and quick turnarounds. At 10:20, headliners Code Orange took the stage, starting off with the title track and opening item of their newly released album ‘Forever’, setting the crowd in motion straightaway as the action in the pit was already at its highest up till this point of the evening. Touring as a five-piece with Dominic Landolina on guitar, synth and backing vocals adding to the core four-piece lineup, Code Orange presented a brilliantly perfect blend of hardcore and metal, showcasing the musical progression they’ve gone through even within a short span of their three-album career so far, and validating their rapid rise through the ranks, because they now undoubtedly have it all to garner full respect and admiration from both the metal and hardcore communities.
The front section of the concert hall was packed like sardines, and Code Orange got the audience so excited and pumped that at times the circle pit action commenced even between songs when the band was simply standing on stage and tuning or changing their instruments. With security staff that was watchful but not intrusive, and no barricade to separate the band from the fans, there was stage-diving and crowd-surfing aplenty, and the band was all for it, a few momentary gear malfunctions withstanding. Drummer/vocalist Jami Morgan was the true frontman from behind the kit, not quite a usual sight in metal/hardcore bands, and he led the band splendidly with his exploits on the kit as well as the vocal mic. The band’s hardcore roots were very much evident throughout the set, but the metal influences were also shown in full, the song ‘Bleeding in the Blur’ off of the new album, with guitarist Reba Meyers on lead vocals, certainly coming across as the most metal segment of the set.
While they’re still on this tour for another two weeks, Code Orange have already been announced as an opening act for the Anthrax-Killswitch Engage co-headline US tour in April-May and will return to Los Angeles on that trek. As they prepare themselves to play in front of completely alien audiences, Code Orange will continue to destroy stages and excite their own crowds on the remainder of this headline run, and fans of all things heavy would serve themselves well to catch this band live and unabated.
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Code Orange + Youth Code remaining US tour dates:
01/29/2017 – Mesa, AZ @ The Underground &
01/30/2017 – Austin, TX @ Barracuda &
02/01/2017 – Houston, TX @ Eastdown Warehouse &
02/03/2017 – Orlando, FL @ Backbooth ^
02/04/2017 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade (Purgatory) ^
02/05/2017 – Raleigh, NC @ Kings ^
02/06/2017 – Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry ^
02/07/2017 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar ^
02/08/2017 – New York, NY @ Marlin Room at Webster Hall ^
02/10/2017 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium ^
& = w/ Gatecreeper
^ = w/ Nicole Dollanganger