Earlier this year — just days after the pandemic arrived in America — Pittsburgh metallic hardcore brutalists Code Orange released a tremendous and crushing album called Underneath. Obviously, that wrecked the band’s touring plans. Instead, Code Orange played a physical, impressive record-release show in an empty venue, streaming it live on Twitch. This might still be the best of the quarantine performances that I’ve seen. The band also opened one of the WWE’s NXT Takeover shows, performing live in WWE’s Florida performance center. Last night, Code Orange played another livestream, and they found a fascinating way to do it: An homage to ’90s MTV.
Playing live at Pittsburgh’s Theatre Factory, Code Orange offered up the livestream that they called Under The Skin, their take on MTV Unplugged. With a string section helping out, Code Orange played mostly-acoustic versions of a bunch of their songs on a dark stage surrounded by candles and skulls. You wouldn’t necessarily expect this to work; Code Orange songs don’t necessarily lend themselves to acoustic readings. But they made this whole presentation look and sound shockingly cool.
During their set, Code Orange played radically different versions of some of their moodiest songs: “Bleeding In The Blur,” “Sulfur Surrounding,” “Underneath.” They also covered Alice In Chains’ Dirt classic “Down In A Hole,” one of the songs that AIC played when they did their own Unplugged taping in 1996. Meyers sang that shit Hard.
Code Orange also put together a cool pre-show, which they called Mudbangers Ball. Former Headbangers Ball host Riki Rachtman interviewed Code Orange’s Reba Meyers, and he also played videos from Code Orange peers like Gojira, Turnstile, Higher Power, and Vein.FM, as well as a Jesus Piece live video from Hate5six.
You can check out the whole extravaganza below. The Code Orange performance starts at the 1:00:33 mark, and the Alice In Chains cover starts at 1:23:02. Also below, check out Alice In Chains’ own Unplugged take on “Down In A Hole.”
Underneath is out now on Roadrunner.