Injury Reserve – Rough Trade NYC – February 28, 2018
There’s still room in rap for surprises and an Injury Reserve show is chock full of them. Last night, the Phoenix rap trio (two rappers and a redhead on beats) took to the Rough Trade NYC stage hiding beneath sheets, rapping through some verses over a haunted, witchy beat. The surprise here wasn’t that they were hiding under those sheets but that when they dropped a beat, jumped out and launched into “Oh Shit!!!,” the venue broke out into one giant mosh pit like a bomb had gone off in the place. Oh shit, indeed.
Injury Reserve may have the craziest white-boy fans of any group in any genre right now. Second song into the set and multiple guys already had their shirts off. The moshing occurred for more numbers than it didn’t, even for slower ones like “Washed Up.” Songs would begin, a circle would open and at the drop it would collapse into a pile of sweat, spit, limbs and fans spitting bars. This energy even took Injury Reserve a little by surprise—at one point Parker Corey took out his phone to record videos of the crowd. After a tiny intermission, the trio returned for a slowed-down jazzy rap version of “S on Ya Chest” then sped up the song in its second half. There’s something pretty hilarious about watching the audience selectively sing along to the lines: “What you know about a young nigga like this? What you know about a young neighbor like this? I did the second one for the white kids, ’cause I know you want to say it, but that ain’t right kid.”
Injury Reserve’s Stepa J. Groggs and Ritchie with a T beautifully complement each other, with the former’s loud boom of a voice contrasting with latter’s raps like yin and yang. But Corey’s beats are the secret sauce that brings the dish together, weird when it’s needed, hook-y on songs that call for a sing-along chorus. The rest of the show was one hard-hitting hit after another, running through “Boom (x3),” “Yo,” “Ttktv” and, after tossing out a stack of money into the audience, ending with “All this Money.” There just might have been a riot if they hadn’t returned for an encore, so Injury Reserve (with a shirtless Groggs) came back for an even more amped-up version of “Oh Shit!!!” If the night had any overarching theme it was definitely no shirts and oh shits. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks