Injury Reserve @ Fortune Sound: Live Review

Injury Reserve @ Fortune Sound Club: Show Review
Injury Reserve by Erica Lauren

Last night at Fortune Sound Club, Arizona hip-hop group Injury Reserve made the best of an unlucky situation. With their opening act JPEGMAFIA out of commission for two shows the unanimous feeling of attending fans seemed to be disappointment at the news. However, many remained hopeful that Injury Reserve’s first headlining Vancouver show would bring the house down regardless.

Seeing as how JPEGMAFIA wasn’t there, the night instead kicked off with a 40 minute DJ set from Injury Reserve producer Parker Corey himself. Clad in a MoMA hoodie, Corey’s DJ set was as similarly laidback to his getup. While Corey played songs from what many deemed to be his personal library such as Gwen Stefani, Oasis, Death Grips, and even a JPEGMAFIA song the set didn’t feel cohesive and often came to abrupt halts between tracks. The crowd however was undeterred, cheering as visual artist/lights tech Sam Durrick struggled to get the overhead projector working and meeting Corey’s song choices openly with dancing and moshing for the harsher cuts. The real highlight of Corey’s set being what many believed to be an unnamed, unreleased Injury Reserve track.

Almost immediately after the DJ set ended, Injury Reserve was onstage and ready to get started. Launching into their breakout single from 2016 ‘Oh Sh*t!!!,’ seemed to be a tonesetter for the night as the projector screen displayed a mashup of popular videos from the 2000s over Groggs’ iconic lyric, ‘this ain’t jazz rap, this that this that spazz rap, this that raised by the internet, ain’t had no dad rap.’ A fitting opener as various pieces of Internet culture curated by Durrick flashed continually behind them mirroring the upbeat, bassy, and oftentimes attitude laden tongue-in-cheek tones they brought along with them.

The stage setup consisted of a huge box made of two-way mirrors lined with computer screens reading ‘Injury Reserve Arena Tour’ and what looked to be a touring case for various equipment with producer Corey’s Macbook, sample pads, and more laid out across it. The real highlight of the staging that drew the most attention throughout their performance was the use of the aforementioned projector manned by Durrick. Durrick’s specially compiled visuals really made the performance into something beyond your everyday Vancouver rap show stage.

Rapper Ritchie with a T seemed to take issue with the fact that only part of the room was dancing early in the set. Going as far to say “I fuck with the like, 80 n***** up front but y’all in the back is wishy wishy.” This of course lead into their track ‘Washed Up,’ and while the back of the room still didn’t seem to move to Ritchie’s liking, he told them he appreciated their participation in clapping and singing along with him.

Speaking of singing, Ritchie and Groggs absolutely brought their A-game. Constantly trading bars between the two of them, working the hype man role for the other, and playing the crowd throughout the show made it look as though while there is two of them it somehow worked out to being twice as much work for each performer. With such layered and intense production from Corey the two rappers still stood out on stage and refused to let the crowd lose interest even for a moment. The real showcase of Ritchie’s skill was the fact that he worked with two microphones throughout the set, one autotuned and the other raw vocals. This meant the group was able to truly emulate their recorded sound as he handled them expertly sometimes having to double-up for songs in which the switches were simply too fast for him to grab the other mic from the stand.

While the box of mirrors didn’t get a whole lot of play throughout the set its utilisation was unique when it finally did. While Groggs climbed atop it, Ritchie climbed inside for what was the beginning of a more laid back portion of the set. Ritchie and Groggs traded some of their more introspective bars while with the use of some blue lighting and a foam machine it appeared to rain on the two performers. The flow of the performance was really on display here for fans, in a way the stripping back of it all exposed the work that Injury Reserve really put into the ‘Arena Tour’ experience.

As with all things in the set though, Injury Reserve was only a short instrumental break away from blowing up the room once again. Their use of instrumentals persisted throughout the entire set, even when the two weren’t singing there was something going on in the background as the next track rose from silence giving the room no time to lose steam. This was all heightened by the fact that it felt as though numerous tracks in the performance had been remixed or extended for live performance specifically as well. Corey certainly did work to make the songs sound like the recorded versions but wished to make the concert-going experience unique.

As the set continued for the better part of an hour it seems as though the room won over Ritchie from his previous “wishy wishy” comments. As he began interacting with the crowd at one point asking someone in the front row, “Why are you flipping me off? In the States you do that when you wanna fight n*****,” only to be told that up here in Canada it’s a good thing leading Ritchie to flip off the crowd and holler at the top of his lungs.

Closing the set with early hit ‘All This Money’ the crowd got no less wild for the finale. The screen simply reading, “We got tired of waiting for those Harriet Tubman $20 bills” while Corey used a money gun to shower the crowd with fake Harriet Tubman $20 bills (American ones, of course). The crowd went nuts and before Ritchie could get the words “Thank you, we’re Injury Reserve and if you’re trying to f*ck with us we’ll be over by the merch table” out of his mouth, the crowd was shouting for an encore.

The encore, a version of ‘Oh Sh*t!!!’ sped up, was met with high energy and cheers of “see if you can keep up” from Ritchie and Groggs. Ritchie stating as he came back on stage, “I guess we’re going to do an encore, and if you stand still for the encore I’ll leave right now and go to Seattle,” getting yet another laugh from the crowd. This all seemed to encapsulate the stage presence of Groggs and Ritchie throughout the night, while they commanded the stage, music, and audience with a great deal of attitude they not once took themselves too seriously to crack jokes and have fun.

Ritchie’s biggest laugh however came at the very end of the encore when someone threw something on stage. Ritchie shouted in mock disgust,
“This better not be your underwear because that would be nasty”
“It’s a gift,” the thrower said back
This piqued Ritchie’s interested as he picked it up saying, “Oh it’s a gift? What is it then,” holding up the gift for the whole room to see Ritchie as he says, “This is a Jaden Smith t-shirt, I have way too many bars to be handed a Jaden Smith t-shirt!”
Once again Ritchie cavalier attitude was met with laughter and applause as fans crowded towards the front asking Corey, Ritchie, and Groggs to sign their Harriet Tubman bills.

A Live Review By Maguire Stevens