Hotstar: Code Orange Leads The Livestreaming Way With Album Release Show

Code Orange
Justin Boyd
– Code Orange
Code Orange’s record release show was turned into a unique livestream event, with a full performance at the band’s hometown Roxian Theatre in Pittsburgh March 14 helping to grow fans despite the band’s biggest headline tour yet being postponed.

The sudden shutdown of what amounts to the total concert business has affected every touring artist, but the timing for some was worse than others. 

“We were building and building, building up for all this release of tension from putting the record out, it was getting a great response and we had planned the show a day after the record was released in Pittsburgh, our hometown,” says Code Orange frontman/percussionist Jami Morgan, whose band had just released the acclaimed Underneath March 13 on Roadrunner Records. 
However, it quickly became apparent that the March 14 show at the Roxian Theatre, and the band’s accompanying biggest tour to date, were in doubt as the coronavirus was leading to widespread shutting down of mass gatherings and all concerts. The sold-out show was the band’s biggest headliner yet, according to Ground Control Touring’s Merrick Jarmulowicz, who has represented the band since they were teenagers. 
With all the gears in motion to do the show, the most obvious way to salvage the night was to figure out a livestream of sorts. 
“The main goal at first became OK, we have all this stuff rented and the new show, and we don’t want it to go to waste,” says Morgan, who for this tour had fully stepped into the role as high-energy lead vocalist on stage while another drummer handles the kit onstage. “But then it quickly became an opportunity. OK, now we have to make this as high quality as possible, because it’s very possible this is all that’s going to live of us for a while.”
Band co-founder and guitarist Reba Meyers worked the phones day and night, Morgan says, with help from Jarmulowicz securing the venue for the somewhat unusual project, and was able to get Twitch Music, a camera crew and much more to make a livestream worthy of the band’s full live vision. That meant elaborate, synced visual elements resembling a sort of metal horror movie, intricate audio effects wired into the setlist and fresh material the band had worked tirelessly to create in the studio to stream live as a full-energy show.
“In my heart, I feel proud and blessed in terms of what we were able to pull off,” Morgan says of the band, known for its grinding, heavy style often peppered with industrial-sounding glitches and rough vocals. “We had a huge bump from that. It was special. Those couple of days were the most (high profile) we’ve had, not even close. Long term will be huge for us. In a way, it opened a lot of doors, got some huge press, I’m talking to TIME magazine and GQ, and Popular Science, which never would have happened.” More than 13,000 people watched live, according to management at Velvet Hammer, with the subsequent YouTube upload getting another 120,000 views so far.
The momentum had been building with 2017’s Forever, which earned a Grammy nomination for best metal performance, along with the upcoming headline tour and summer dates supporting Slipknot on the band’s 2020 Knotfest Roadshow U.S. amphitheatre tour.
“We weren’t super ambitious with the room sizes, they were all sort of around 1,000-cap, and we probably would have sold out almost every show,” says Jarmulowicz of the band’s headline run that had been planned for the spring. After securing a spot on Coachella and moving things around to get the package and routing in a good spot, “It had finally felt like we had pulled this thing off with a pretty decent package, and the sales were where they needed to be. Then the whole entire world shut down the week the record came out.”
The Slipknot tour, which is still scheduled for amphitheatres in June, was a big get as well, as Slipknot frontman and counter-culture icon Corey Taylor had become a fan.
While the bands may have different sonic qualities, especially in the very differentiated and often-argued about metal subgenres, Morgan says, “The energy is super similar, we have that fire, we play fucking heavy music and are probably inspired by a lot of the same things, and we’re inspired by them, especially in terms of the energy, presence, and the theatricality. 
“I think for us, just the honor of knowing we’re on the tour just because they wanted us to be on it, that meant a lot in itself.”
Although things are hopefully on pause rather than stop, Jarmulowicz adds, “Even if the momentum does halt a bit because of this break being longer than we all anticipated, they’ll think of something to maintain it. They’re going to be one of the bigger acts in the genre, it’s just a matter of time. 
‘They’re a band that is going to do that on their own terms, and that always takes longer than compromising,” the agent says, adding that Code Orange is the hardest working band he’s seen, from producing its own merch by hand, to tracking the new LP for eight weeks where most bands finish a whole album in half that time, to its relentless touring. 
Admitting that tour plans could be pushed back further than anyone had hoped, Morgan remains eager to continue growing the fanbase and working on other projects in the meantime.
“I feel good about it, I kind of had a clear goal of where I wanted us to be by the end of this record and whatever else happens, and now it’s kind of scrambled. But you know what? I kind of feel in my gut it’ll be even bigger when we’re about to get back out there, I really do. We’ve gotten to a lot of people in just the last few weeks, and I think we’ve put ourselves on the frontline of this whole thing, and i’m really happy about the growth.
Code Orange remains busy growing the fanbase, with keyboardist/visual artist Eric “Shade” Balderose releasing a 3D animated movie and doing livestream performances with visuals and other artists, Meyers doing a guitar clinic for fans, while the band has remixes, merchandise projects, and “one big band thing, a goal-post idea I don’t want to talk about yet,” Morgan says. 
“We’re always barking up every tree, trying to knock down the doors and get to as many different kinds of people as possible,” he says. “Whether that’s Coachella, or the Slipknot tour, or doing weird electronic shit, or some rap shit. I certainly feel like with the type of band we are, there’s not going to be an audience directly handed down to us. We have to accumulate our own new group.”