Retrospective (III): Code Orange Kids

This is another review I never actually gave to anyone. This one was just for me but I’m sharing it here. If you’ve never heard of this band, get on it quick before they get huge and sell out. (A side note: Code Orange Kids recently changed their name to Code Orange, much to the chagrin of die-hard fanboys who threw hissy fits on Twitter about the change. Get over it, guys. If everyone got this irritated by a band’s name-change, Self Defense Family – formerly End Of A Year, End Of A Year Self Defense Family, Self Defense Music, AND Self Defense – wouldn’t have any fans left.)
Code Orange Kids, The Star and Garter, Manchester, March 2014
Some school kids formed a punk band in Philadelphia, PA, they got signed by the biggest label in hardcore and became millionaires by the time they were 21. Sounds ridiculous, no? Sounds like a pipe dream you talked about with your mates in the back of a Physics lesson, doesn’t it? But it’s totally real.
Code Orange Kids formed when the band members were in middle school back in 2008. By the time they signed to Deathwish Records in 2012, their average age was just 18. Their EP ‘Cycles’ brought them to the attention of Converge’s frontman Jacob Bannon, which lead to the signing, and the band went on to release their first full-length, the excellent, shoe-gazing, intensely visceral ‘Love Is Love // Return To Dust’ in 2012, to mass critical acclaim.
Not bad going for a band who famously weren’t allowed into some of their own gigs because they weren’t old enough to enter the venues.
This year sees the release of Code Orange Kids’ sophomore LP ‘I Am King’ (September 1st) and, with the band being incredibly mysterious about what exactly fans are going to hear, I’m intrigued to see what they’re going to come out with at this gig. Drummer Jami Morgan has set up a website dedicated to the new record but the quartet has been very secretive. It has been a busy year elsewhere for the band too, with three of the members forming another band, Adventures, and Morgan teaming up with Self Defense Family’s Patrick Klindon to create Harm Reduction Records, which will release records by Drown and Torn this year.
Beginning with Cycles, the gig kicks off to a brilliantly no-holds-barred start, one kid spinning and kicking and floor-punching with excitement as the tension in the song builds and breaks. As the band dive into the vicious, filthy riff which begins the track Nothing (The Rat), a kid in a Disgrace t-shirt attempts to join in the pit and is instantly floored. There is nowhere to hide (unless you’ve been lucky enough to secure a place on a raised area next to the wall) and track after track rain down on the crowd. It’s a short set, only seven tracks long, but it’s so worth it. Vocalist Reba Meyers shows off her trademark screech for the beginning of Liars // Trudge before bringing forth her quiet, soft, almost-whispered singing for the end of the track. That she is able to replicate this change in her voice so expertly at a live show is testament to her incredible talent.
New track Slowburn is played next, and it’s the song the crowd’s been waiting for, new material to scare the neighbours with. It’s different from other Code Orange Kids material but still recognisably intense, still as captivatingly dark and burning. Finally, the closing track Flowermouth (The Leech) is played, Meyers screaming the lyrics through her veil of messy red hair. It’s been almost impossible to see her face the entire gig because she’s been masked by hair, head-banging while playing guitar and staring at the floor during the slow parts of songs.
What’s so brilliant about Code Orange Kids is, they’re not big-headed. These guys are set to become one of the biggest acts in hardcore. They’re touring with the likes of Bane and Killswitch Engage this year, and last year toured with Every Time I Die and Title Fight, and they’ve established a fan base that includes members of some of the biggest bands in the business, but they’re so humble. It’s this attitude, this passion for what they do and doing it well, that makes them such a pleasure to watch.
See the I Am King video.
Set list:
Cycles (The Days Get Longer)
Nothing (The Rat)
V (My Body Is A Well)
Liars // Trudge
Worms Fear God // God Fears Youth
Slowburn
Flowermouth (The Leech)

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