One of underground hip-hop’s finest duos returns to Montreal.
On Jan. 20, billy woods and ELUCID made their return to Montreal. Known together as Armand Hammer, the New York rappers kicked off the second leg of their tour in support of their latest album We Buy Diabetic Test Strips at Bar Le Ritz PDB on Jean-Talon Ouest Street.
The rappers played a sold-out show for a packed crowd that easily hit the bar’s 300-person capacity. At the start of the show, they announced that it was their first show of the year, prompting an enthusiastic crowd reaction. The room was dimly lit by a few red spotlights, setting a true underground feel.
The show officially kicked off with songs from We Buy Diabetic Test Strips. Hearing these tracks gave weight to woods’ claim about the sound system: from the looming low-end on “The Unreliable Flexibility of Space and Time” to the brash, abrasive cymbal crashes throughout “Trauma Mic,” the sound quality was pristine. woods had previously played at the venue twice in 2022, including once as Armand Hammer. “I know that the subwoofer in this venue is crazy,” woods shared with the crowd.
Armand Hammer’s albums are skillful displays of lyricism, and their live shows are no different. Both MCs rapped every word without missing a beat, and their lyrical performances were enhanced by their compelling deliveries. ELUCID swayed along to the beat while perfectly delivering his signature, unorthodox flow, which is scattered yet perfectly linear. Meanwhile, woods’ delivery was bold and compelling, occasionally bordering on yelling.
Every bar was razor-sharp, and the sheer power of his voice commanded full attention. The onstage chemistry between them was undeniable, like any other show: they ad-libbed in synchrony, and their back-and-forth repetition during the end of tracks made their choruses feel like mantras.
From the psychedelic haziness of “Landlines” and “Woke Up and Asked Siri How I’m Gonna Die,” to the underground rumble of “Blocked Call” and “The Key is Under The Mat,” the tracks perfectly showcased the sonic versatility that made Hammer’s latest album so unique and enticing.
Fans were also treated to songs from all across woods’ and ELUCID’s joint and solo catalogues. ELUCID performed “Spellling” and “Mangosteen” from his 2022 album I Told Bessie, both of which had guitar-esque twangs ringing out beautifully over the speakers. woods dove into Hiding Places (with Kenny Segal), a classic among underground rap fans for its harrowing nature. Its tracks made for some of the night’s best performances: “Checkpoints” was ridden with strong emotion, and the hook on “Spongebob”—his most popular song—made for the strongest call-and-response from the crowd.
The pair also threw in two of their most widely known songs with Earl Sweatshirt, “Falling out the Sky” and “Tabula Rasa.” They wrapped things up with “Stonefruit” from Haram (2021), just like their 2022 show at Bar Le Ritz PDB.
Throughout the show, the MCs showed a strong connection with fans. They raised the volume twice to the crowd’s liking and stuck around after the show to sell merch and sign records. The artists who truly love their art are the same ones willing to lug around stacks of vinyl in their suitcases and take Ubers to shows. Between captivating, unparalleled music, compelling live performances, and one-on-one conversation opportunities, Armand Hammer are truly for the fans.