“Roadie for a Night” (for Code Orange)
Although my dream lies in the field of journalism, my heart lies in music. Ever since I first picked up a guitar, all I’ve wanted to do is tour the world, playing music, and live the life of a rock star. Sadly, that is a dream that is unattainable at this moment. The truth hurts, but sometimes, that’s what the truth is all about. However, on Saturday, October 11th, I had the opportunity to live that dream for a night.
My brother Tom sells merchandise for hardcore punk band Code Orange (formerly known as “Code Orange Kids”), which means that he gets to travel the country with the band, living the dream that I wish I could also live. Sometimes, I get lucky, and because of him, I am able to get into shows for free, and it so happened that I would get into Code Orange’s headlining show at the Voltage Lounge on Saturday. This meant that I would avoid the $10 ticket price, and maybe get to hang out with the band. Nothing big.
The news I got two days before the show completely took away that “nothing big” attitude.
I was told that I would be going to the show in the band’s van and help the band with whatever they needed. To anyone else, this seems like a bunch of grunt work that nobody would ever want to do. But let’s be real, this was me getting a taste of my dream. I got in the van with the band and my brother and drove from my house to the city.
Let me provide some insight on just who Code Orange is. Code Orange was formed under the name “Code Orange Kids” in 2008 in Pittsburgh. The band consists of Reba Meyers on guitar and vocals, Eric Balderose on guitar and vocals, Jami Morgan on drums and vocals, and Joe Goldman on bass. The band delivers a doomy, dark, and abrasive sound that is extremely unique in the hardcore scene today. Some of the sound can be compared to bands such as Black Flag and Integrity. The band’s sophomore album entitled “I am King,” was released in September, and debuted #96 on the Billboard 200 chart, and #1 on the Billboard Vinyl chart. This is almost unheard of for a hardcore band.
To move on with the night, the Voltage Lounge sold out rather quickly for a hardcore show to remember. Opening band Time Bomb got the place moving instantly, playing fast and unrelenting songs that took no prisoners.
California natives Soul Search took the stage second and made sure that if anyone in the crowd was safe behind a wall of people, than they would become unsafe very soon as the Voltage Lounge opened up for a thirty minute set of pure chaos.
The third band that played, Wrong Answer, holds a very special place in my heart. Wrong Answer was one of the first hardcore bands that I was introduced to when I was twelve, and I was hooked immediately. This show was actually their last show, and every song was a blast from the past. Opening with “Chance” off of their “World is Empty” EP, Wrong Answer made me realize why I fell in love with hardcore music seven years ago. Ending their insane set with their biggest song that the band hadn’t played in a very long time, The World is Empty, I lost my mind from the safety of the balcony overlooking the stage. I will miss Wrong Answer dearly.
Second to last came California’s own Twitching Tongues, a unique take on the hardcore genre. Providing complex instrumentals with a more Judas Priest-esque vocal line, nobody in the venue was safe from moshers losing their minds to every song played. However, their set could not prepare anyone for what was to come.
I was lucky enough to be on stage for all of Code Orange’s set, so I got the best view of the utter insanity. When I say insanity, I mean literal insanity. Opening with “My World,” off of their new album, I witnessed people jumping down a flight of stairs, crowdsurfers making their way to the stage by running across the heads of their crowdmates, and a mosh pit like no other. As the set continued, the crowd only got more and more intense. The highlight of the set for me personally, was seeing my brother Tom do guest vocals for the song “Nothing//The Rat,” one of my favorites. I’ve never seen my brother in such a state of craziness. To see him screaming the words to the song while simultaneously swinging his fists, narrowly avoiding not only fans, but the band too, I realized how proud I was to be his brother. Hearing more songs off of the new album such as “I am King,” and “Dreams in Inertia,” the set came to a close in a vivid burst of energy, and drummer Jami Morgan, whom after screaming lyrics for the entire set, simply said “Thank you,” and the band exited the stage.
My roadie skills were beckoned upon as soon as the band left the stage. I was helping the band take apart instruments, wrap cables, and anything else needed. I broke down the merchandise table, and moved everything out to the van. Walking by fans who just saw the show while I was holding a box of Code Orange hoodies was a good feeling. Seeing looks of envy on their faces, knowing that I was “with the band,” was an indescribable feeling.
However, the night took a stressful turn shortly after the show.
Pulling up to the Voltage Lounge, tragedy struck as the band’s trailer’s axel broke, which led to a tough decision on whether or not to play the last show of the tour in Richmond, Virginia the next night. After much debate and advice from Philadelphia hardcore guru Joe Hardcore, the band decided that the show must go on. This is the kind of stuff that happens on the road, and bands must be prepared for anything.
On Sunday, October 12th, Code Orange played the last show of what they said was the best tour they’ve ever played at Strange Matter in Richmond Virginia. While I wasn’t there, I have been seeing pictures and watching videos and I could tell it was a stellar show. Code Orange is a band that deserves any success that comes towards them in the future. For being a band of four 21 year olds who have traveled the world, I would say they’re doing alright for themselves.
Article and Photo by: Tyler Carmody