Code Orange Mod Club, Toronto ON, June 26

Code Orange Mod Club, Toronto ON, June 26
Photo: Morgan Hotston
On Tuesday night at the Mod Club, a man jumped off the stage and smacked his head. Wiping sweat and blood out of his eyes, he proceeded to throw his elbows and spin like a lunatic until another stagediver sent him to the floor. Scenes from a riot? Nope. Just an average night when Code Orange come to town.
The journey that brought Code Orange to the Mod Club tonight reads like a teenage musician's fever dream. Formed as Code Orange Kids while the members were still in high school, they have played relentlessly and released two critically acclaimed albums. But 2017's Forever was the one that saw them shoot to stardom. Suddenly, it was goodbye basements, hello festival circuit and sold-out stadiums as they supported System of A Down, Anthrax and Trivium on individual, separate tours.
But on Tuesday night, it was no support slot. Code Orange had made it here on their own, and it was time to see if they had what it takes without the help of a big name to draw in the crowd. No pressure.
The fact that more than six people jumped off the stage before the first song hit was a good sign. Code Orange obviously know where the key to their success lies, since almost the entirety of the night's set came off Forever. Early ragers like "Real" and "Spy" served to whip the crowd into a pit-crazed frenzy. But the band weren't afraid to let their human side show as well, with the alternative wash of "Bleeding In the Blur" and the delightfully Deftonesian "Only One Way" both making appearances. They even played "The Hunt" a mere six days after its release.
With no real frontman (they split vocal duties, with drummer Jami Morgan taking the lion's share), Code Orange had free reign of the stage. Joe Goldman stalked back and forth like he was about to crush his bass in his bare hands, while Dominic Landolina climbed speaker stacks like a demented Spider-Man. It was Eric Balderose, though, who truly took things to the next level. Armed with an analog synthesizer, he ramped the brutality up to truly inhuman levels, turning parts of the set list into an industrial wasteland. The crowd responded, and by the time the title track of Forever dropped, it was greeted like a decade-old classic. Not bad for a bunch of hardcore trend-wreckers.
What we were witnessing was a group exploding into their prime. Code Orange have captured the attention of metal's scene leaders (Kurt Ballou of Converge produced Forever, and Corey Taylor featured on "The Hunt"), and they've proved they have the chops to show for it. Newer material might ventures into more experimental territory, but that seems to have only made Code Orange stronger. Mostly, the band seems to be loving every second of it. Jami Morgan's cries of "get the fuck up!" might be cliché, but they've rarely been delivered with the intensity they were this night. There really is no replacement for authenticity, it seems.
As of this moment, Code Orange can do no wrong. They're riding on the back of one of the best metal albums released in years, and show no sign of slowing down. The kids have grown up. God help anyone who stands in their way.