January 28, 2017 | Los Angeles, CA | UNION
Written & photographed by Ben Manzella (More Than Flashing Lights & Sound)
I think it’s fair to say that chaos or misunderstanding has been in the air as of late; while I was looking forward to the Code Orange show at Union this last week, I didn’t plan to have the anxiety attack that ended up making the night a challenging but interesting experience. While I don’t know if it was sold out: there was already a decent-sized crowd when the music started around 8pm with the local hardcore act, Momentum.
Having been a musician for most of my life, I immediately have respect for anyone who will put the work and time into playing live for what can sometimes be a crowd of ungrateful people. Luckily for Momentum, it seems like their following is growing while they’ve seemingly been active for only a few months. Unfortunately, on both accounts, my camera was having technical difficulties and I can’t say their music was anything I hadn’t heard from countless other bands before them. While working on my camera, Disgrace officially kicked off the night for me. Led on vocals by Taylor Young (known for playing drums in Nails among other acts), Disgrace are a group I would associate with Arizona’s Gatecreeper as band with clear death metal roots which also fits very well in a hardcore/crossover metal setting, enabling them to fit alongside a band like Code Orange just as easily as they could have played with Entombed.
With my camera finally working properly, Youth Code was next and I was very much excited to see them again. 2016 was a year where my interest in the vast world that comes under the umbrella term of “industrial” grew exponentially, through exploring artists/groups both old and new, and Youth Code was a discovery that I was very grateful to make. Having seen them this past August, I had an idea of what to expect but because they were the more ‘unique’ band on the bill, it made me curious as to what the crowd reaction was going to be. One of Youth Code’s greatest strengths is their chameleon-like nature in that they seem like they can adapt to nearly any crowd, and they certainly took control of the room at Union without any struggle.
It may have been a challenging or unfamiliar sound for some that night, but I have a feeling that Youth Code caught the attention of plenty of people that night just as much as their fans welcomed them for this hometown stop on their current tour. The incensed energy of both Sara and Ryan makes for an explosive performance from beginning to end; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a focused yet unhinged approach to manipulating sounds and samples while doing vocals as what I’ve seen twice now from Ryan George. Being that he was vocalist in the hardcore band, Carry On, I’m sure this influences his way of interacting with music; and while Sara hasn’t been in a band previous to Youth Code, she has certainly come into her own and made a home at whichever venue is next on the itinerary. Reminded of the “Industrial Music is Protest Music” shirt designed by ANNIHILVS POWER ELECTRONIX (made with the proceeds being donated to Earthjustice), Sara touched on the travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump; while I won’t act as though I remember everything that was said, it was a poignant moment of unity and encouragement to seek to understand in the face of fear mongering and to avoid the very obvious fact that we as individuals are not all-knowing. While we all have the ability to see things change, the closing lyrics of Youth Code’s “Anagnorisis” seem very fitting at this time; “This is a trigger. This is despair. These eyes are poison, a sad state of affairs. (Nothing ends well with a start like this.)”
With the almost capacity room clearly anxious, a very ominous sample began playing. Launching into the title track of their latest release, Forever, Code Orange made the room erupt into a frenzy. For an effectively audio equivalent to a “1-2” punch combination, “Kill the Creator” was immediately started with no break between songs as would be a consistent rhythm for the remainder of night; but the crowd wasn’t worried, if anything they were clearly grateful and didn’t hesitate in releasing every bit of energy on the floor and stage as there were many stage dives. With textured keyboards and synths included in their sound even more on Forever than they were on 2014’s I Am King, Code Orange could very well have a future touring with industrial acts with a heavier sound just as easily they’re sure to continue their presence in the hardcore music scene. I really believe this is just the beginning for Code Orange; with this already being their third full-length release in nine years, they’re firmly establishing themselves as a band to watch for in the current heavy music scene.