Live Review: Subtle Orange Are Taking Their Childhood Dreams to New Heights & Bringing Fans Along With Them

Subtle Orange © Ethan Bartley
Subtle Orange © Ethan Bartley
Alt-rock five piece Subtle Orange returned to Los Angeles with a surprisingly introspective yet cathartically collective set at West Hollywood’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Stream: “Easier Said” – Subtle Orange

Subtle Orange draw people in with a dopamine-drenched outer shell and make them linger for the dark matter lurking beneath the surface.

Just like the fruit, this band has layers. At first glance, you might extract wildly absurd vocals, yet upon closer look, you’ll find a delicate, melancholy cadence. Sweet and sour, you may get lost in the euphoric haze of youthful riffs and carefree vignettes, only to find yourself eventually in the throes of existential lyricism. Like the color and the taste, Subtle Orange is a vibrant sensory experience teeming with understated psychedelics that feel like peering through a kaleidoscope. That double-sided vision trick is something they carry with them in everything they do, especially so at live performances.

Subtle Orange © Ethan Bartley
Subtle Orange © Ethan Bartley

It’s impossible to understand the Subtle Orange stage dynamic without first understanding their backstory. Dating back to elementary school where lead singer Dane Schumacher and guitarist Swain Yakupitiyage bonded over a shared passion for Green Day, Subtle Orange started their journey together as just kids. Later taking shape as high school jazz band cohort, they started expanding horizons from jam sessions to house shows until their eventual descent into various college towns across the US when graduation rolled around.

Reuniting years later in Whitefish, Montana while hulled up in a cabin during the pandemic’s peak, Subtle Orange rekindled that same childlike wonder for music and wrote their EP, Lacy’s Place (independently released in 2021). Since then, they’ve gone on to play Bleached Fest among the likes of Surf Curse, Remi Wolf, and Leon Bridges and worked with the esteemed producer Stefan Macarewich on their latest single “Easier Said.” On an upward spiral, their recent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang set serves as a homecoming of sorts back to the City of Angels.

The loyalty to the music of Subtle Orange shared between both the band and their respective fans who have in many ways become family is noticeable from the second you walk into the room. You’ll see DIY t-shirts, unabashedly jovial mosh-pits, and hear stories from people in the crowd about what each of them was like in high school.

Playing fan favorites like “Fruit Punch” and “Bailey’s” along with deeper cuts of “Sitting Ducks” and an unexpected rendition of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” the set struck the perfect balance between exuberant and understated.

Subtle Orange © Ethan Bartley
Subtle Orange © Ethan Bartley

The decision behind covering “Fade Into You” came from a collective respect for Mazzy Star shared between the members of Subtle Orange and a desire to connect with their audience on a melodic level. Schumacher in particular finds moments of melancholy gloom to be a point of magnetism in the music he’s drawn to. “Sitting Ducks” was another subdued moment of reflection in the evening as the nostalgic Lacy’s Place track brought the band back to days spent in quarantine when everything stood still.

Closing out the night with their electrically dazed “Fruit Punch,” the evening was left on a high note for all in attendance. Between the on-stage banter and anthemic yells from the sea of people throwing elbows in the pit, Subtle Orange had a way of transporting us all back to the daydreams of our youth. The best part is, they’ve proven that those ambitions of our childhood are something worth fighting for that’s keeping the music alive to this day.

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Easier Said - Subtle Orange

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