Arizona rap trio Injury Reserve introduce themselves to Montreal in riotous fashion
The lights inside Le Belmont dimmed. A thick fog started to fill up the small venue. Suddenly, three silhouettes appeared on stage as the beat to “Rap Song Tutorial” started playing. The song, while different from the studio version, announces their arrival. The beat shifts and distorts enough to get the crowd riled up.
Silence follows. In an instant, the beat drops as the harsh yelling of “GTFU” begins.
Injury Reserve is here.
Following the release of their debut self-titled album, Injury Reserve, the group saw increased popularity and acclaim as their latest effort was lauded by fans and critics alike. The album took more than two years to complete as the group spent most of their time in Europe developing it. While Floss and Live From The Dentist’s Office showed their unwavering potential and their experimental tendencies, their self-titled project was their true introduction to the world.
In a small venue, the lighting made for a photographer’s nightmare. The three members of the group were barely visible, but their stage presence more than made up for the lack of clear vision. Really, they didn’t need to be seen; they needed to be heard. Ritchie With a T and Stepa J Groggs rapped like their lives depended on it on their live renditions of heavy-hitting bangers such as “Oh Shit!!!” and their most memorable track “Jailbreak The Tesla.”
The group’s internet-heavy aesthetic fit the overall tone of the concert. Their faces never showed and they never properly introduced themselves, allowing for a dark and anonymous concert that probably would have driven off any new listeners. Despite this, Injury Reserve still performed deeper cuts that couldn’t be singles. Songs like “What a Year It’s Been” act as personal reflections of the two rappers in the group.
Producer Parker Corey was the least visible member throughout the set as he mostly stayed at the back of the stage handling the song transitions and beat adjustments. Although he was never seen, his work behind the DJ booth was essential in providing the wild atmosphere they sought out.
The standout performance of the night wasn’t a banger, however. The auto-tune heavy and masterfully produced “ttkt” followed the mood switch-up after “Best Spot in the House.” Ritchie With a T’s auto-crooning is a perfect example of how auto-tune can make someone’s singing more enjoyable. The glitchy effect of Ritchie’s vocals doubled down on the already dark tone of the track.
The balance between bangers and introspective deep cuts shows how versatile Injury Reserve is. Their first performance in Montreal was truly a triumphant success. Having three full-length projects and one EP under their belt, their show expertly combined the best aspects of their music into one concise concert.
Feauture photo by Louis Pavlakos
In-text photo by Britanny Clarke