It is not a simple spectacle to see one of your beloved bands break-up, but it may be even more arduous to witness a premiere local act's demise. Despite being considered a significant city in America, Pittsburgh does not have a prevailing local scene to counterpart that importance. Earlier this month when the Code announced their retirement it hit hard with their dedicated fanbase and on the home front of a metropolis in dire need of all the talent it can acquire.
The final three shows for the Code kicked off on October 12th in front of a very eager crowd at Mr. Smalls Theater in Millvale (a suburb of Pittsburgh). The band squeezed in a spot on the bill opening up for Westbound Train, Against All Authority, and Mustard Plug. Frontman Marc Defiant announced to the crowd that this was indeed the end of the road and that sparked a fire amongst those in attendance. Throughout their entire set the enthusiasts never let up, matching every lyric with the eccentric vocalist as they danced and covered the old church's floor in a slippery coating of sweat. Having not played a show since early April of this year, it was obvious that the band had a layer of rust impairing their abilities, but this was minute as the enthusiasm displayed on stage, especially by guitarist Andy, made up for that. Their set was short and sweet, but the Pittsburgh crowd gave the Code a farewell party they will never forget.
The following evening the band was to play in Buffalo, New York but record snowfall crippled the city and the band was unable to make the trek up north. I benefited from this quite, as Against All Authority who were also on the bill ended up staying in Pittsburgh for another night and played a very intriguing set at the Smiling Moose for free. Their set list was similar to what they played the previous night opening for Mustard Plug, but included an excellent cover of the Dead Kennedys' "Holiday in Cambodia." Marc Defiant was there and sang on a song, but I cannot recall which one.
On Saturday my friend Stef and I decided to take the two-hour trip up to Erie, PA to bid farewell to the Code in front of their true hometown fans at the Forward Hall. A handful of local bands filled the lineup, including Mistrials, Pittsburgh natives Incommunicado, Dirt McGurt, and Erie stalwarts Hank Jones. As always, Hank Jones put on a stimulating live set crammed with terrific hardcore songs and a slew of goofing around -- Roger from the Code played guitars on the best song ever written about food, "Pizza Party."
As the Code finished setting up their instruments and the lights dimmed an eerie (no pun intended) aura encompassed the Forward Hall. It vaguely felt similar to attending a funeral for a close friend. The glum state of mind did not last long as the band stormed the stage in passion for the opener, "Battle On." I previously mentioned that the band was mildly out of sync at the Pittsburgh show -- that bit of âpractice' must have been all they needed as they were as tight as ever throughout the duration of the evening. On top of their mainstay songs ("John Doe," "Alert Aware Involve," "Know Your Enemy," etcâ¦) they also debuted a plethora of new songs. It is a shame that the Code are abandoning the music scene as the steadfast straightforward punk rock tunes were on par with their finest songs and surely would have been favorites. They did announce that the show was being recorded and that those tunes may find a home someday.
Throughout the entire evening the crowd had their fists in the air and sang along to each song, but the Forward Hall absolutely erupted when the Code launched into the much loved ska-punk hit "40-Hour Week." I believe it was from that point on when everyone knew it was getting closer and closer to the end for this group of musicians that we all held so close to our hearts; so from that point the fervor between the band and the fans never let up. "I'm Calling Bullshit" teased of an abrupt ending, but no one was fooled as "Riot" commenced an encore. To everyone's delight the band's rendition of Operation Ivy's "Unity" was played. During the cover, everyone swarmed the stage like pirates robbing a vessel; you could vaguely hear the instruments over the collective voices singing the timeless lyrics. Once the platform was cleared the band sensitively dove into "!$@$#$@" for one last time. It was hard watching the end of a career unravel in front of so many committed admirers, but it was a fitting conclusion that will be etched into those in attendance mind's eternally.
The Code were never that large of a band, but they accomplished nearly everything they sought after in their six-year existence. From stealing electricity to perform in an abandoned trailer to traveling the entire country with their unique blend of punk rock the Code have made their mark. Their impact was made not only on their dedicated fanbase, but also the cities of Erie and Pittsburgh who were so fortunate to have a great group guys and musicians call those places home.
You can view videos from the last show via the band's Myspace page
Set List (in order):
- Battle On
- (new song)
- John Doe
- (new song)
- Alert Aware Involve
- Forget Me Not (new song)
- Foolish Dreams (new song)
- Know Your Enemy
- Revolution Now
- A Few Good Men (new song)
- 40-Hour Week
- Persistence (new song)
- Our Safety
- I'm Calling Bullshit --Encore--
- Convergence Is a Loaded Gun
- Brian's Song