Code Orange at The Underground
Code Orange at The Undergroup on September 16th
by Kellen Shover
About a hundred ventured into The Nile Theater’s basement (appropriately called The Underground) with different purposes. Some wanted to get out all of their aggression and mosh to the point where they were hurting other innocent concert goers. Others just wanted to witness a show of intensely heavy music or live on the edge of danger for thirty minutes at a time. Despite these differing reasons for attendance, everyone came to the show for the exact same main reason. And that was to see Code Orange (formerly known as Code Orange Kids).
In the recently renovated entrance of the Mesa theatre, there was a box at the ticket window with a note scrawled on it saying, “You’ll probably need these.” I took their advice and grabbed a pair of earplugs (I have started to wear these as I have noticed the sound is better with them in. I spend half of a set trying to make sure they are in properly as I can never tell.) The Underground is infamously known around the valley as a sweat lodge during the hotter months, and I was reminded of this fact each time I took a step down the old and creaky wooden stairs. When I entered into the claustrophobic basement, it was evident that I had passed through a threshold of the heat and sweat of bodies losing themselves to the music.
The first band I saw on Tuesday was Gatecreeper, a local band (Triage played before them and were very tight at other shows I’ve seen.) Many other local bands tend to play a more run-of-the-mill hardcore sound with abuse of breakdowns and use of the same guitar tones as other more prominent acts. While Gatecreeper still play a heavier form of hardcore punk (beatdown is what my friends call it), the members of the band are obviously metalheads and love death metal (as evidenced by the Obituary T-Shirt one of the guitarists was sporting) but, through some weird occurrence, ended up playing hardcore punk. As a result, they stand out in the hardcore landscape that is currently superfluous with bands trying to copy each others’ sounds. They accomplished this through their interesting guitar riffs and their tight performance.
After them, Twitching Tongues of Los Angeles performed next. I am not going to pretend to know a ton about this band, as the extent of my prior knowledge of this band was their single, “Preacher Man,” which is a very interesting track that has a unique vocal delivery (not many harsh vocals on this track, mostly clean singing). I was disheartened to find, however, that the rest of their music falls for many of the hardcore cliches and stereotypes, except without the aggression generic hardcore music has due to the vocals. Their playing was quite tight, but the vocalist was incomprehensible in his singing and plain talking. I would recommend one listen to “Preacher Man,” though, as it is a very cool track.
Finally at around 10, Code Orange of Pittsburgh came on. Their entrance was welcomed by the audience with a cheer, and the flocking of tough guys to the pit ready to flail their limbs around in the air like idiots and hurt innocent bystanders because of their entitlement (that is a discussion for another day). Code Orange stick to many hardcore cliches like the overabundance of breakdowns in their song. However, they can be forgiven here because they have a unique tone that other copycats haven’t been able to nail exactly, and they have enough variations in their songs. One of the tracks off of their new LP (and first album as just Code Orange,) I Am King, “Dreams In Inertia” has a huge grunge influence throughout the track, and when they played that song, many of the tough guys who were hardcore dancing before became very confused. This change of pace was not long, though, as they were soon back to the unrelenting, harsh, and mosh-friendly sound that they had before. The performance on all fronts was impressive. Three of the four members do vocals—there is no one lead vocalist—and each one was able to let out gut-wrenching screams and grunts while furiously playing.
I am glad that I took the venue’s suggestion and popped in some ear plugs because it was a great feeling listening to an incredibly loud without having your ears ringing afterword. Go see Code Orange the next time they come through. And make sure to pick up I Am King out now through Deathwish Inc.