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Code Orange Concert Review

Code Orange
June 30, 2018
The Granada - Lawrence, KS

Joe Goldman and Jami Morgan of Code Orange. Photo by Aaron Rhodes.

Pittsburgh metallic hardcore juggernauts Code Orange and several of their contemporaries are in the midst of a steady rise to the forefront of mainstream rock music's conscience. Since signing with Roadrunner Records in 2016, the band and many they share a scene with have been proving how vital and viable hardcore can be in metal magazines, active rock radio, festival settings, and even the Grammy field -- their 2017 track, "Forever," received a nomination for Best Metal Performance. As Code Orange continues to push past barriers that hardcore bands have fallen short of since the heyday of nu-metal, the group returned to Kansas in June for its first local headlining show since departing the DIY circuit a few short years ago.

From the first to the final moments of Code Orange's 45 minute set, the band aimed -- and largely succeeded -- at conjuring up as much fear and chaos as possible. Drummer/vocalist Jami Morgan never missed an opportunity to unleash a throat-shredding mosh call as he and the band rocked out. "Rocking out" -- the act of musicians exerting themselves to the fullest extent -- is often scoffed at by the morbidly hip, but as Code Orange continue to push hardcore to nightmarish new heights, they've subsequently discarded their interest in the opinions of their peers. As a result, bassist Joe Goldman spin-kicked to his heart's content, occasionally screaming in the faces of front row fans. Guitarist/vocalist Reba Meyers was never far behind him.

Code Orange has not only grown in popularity over the last few years, but the band has grown as musicians, too. Gone are the days of youth -- the Code Orange Kids days -- where each and every song was an adrenaline shot to the heart. They've learned to supplement those moments of fury with tracks that feature eerie, experimental electronics ("Hurt Goes On") or gloomy, grunge hybrid grooves ("Dreams In Inertia," "Bleeding In The Blur"). This type of contrast just furthers the impact of every monstrous breakdown that follows. And while this show was likely one of the smallest on the tour -- the moshpits that were constant in other cities came to a halt several times -- it was by no means the result of a lesser performance.

Twitching Tongues. Photo by Aaron Rhodes.
Much like the night's headliners, Twitching Tongues are unafraid of being divisive. The Los Angeles band refers to itself as metal-influenced hardcore, but their sound is far more complex than just that. Bits and pieces of groove metal, hardcore, and thrash are thrown every which way over the course of each epic (in the pre-internet sense of the word) composition. Colin Young's vocals fall somewhere between power metal, doom, and straight-up hard rock. Throw in the Tongues' theatrical disposition -- Young entered the stage wearing a flashy custom-made cloak and mask combo -- and fans are left very turned off or begging for more. Not every moment of the set was exhilarating, but most can agree that watching five different types of mosh-pitters try to get down at once is exceptional metal gig entertainment.

Vein was the first act of the night. Hot off their debut LP, "Errorzone," released a week before this show, this Boston crew brought the hurt. Squealing guitars and breakbeats a la '99 Slipknot were fused with a similar type of punishing, hardcore power as Code Orange. A handful of zealous crowdkillers controlled the pit as vocalist Anthony DiDio made emphatic hops across the stage and fed the mic to hungry fans. Your chances of seeing the band in a cramped basement have passed.

Full photo gallery here.

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