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Photo Gallery: Injury Reserve / Jpegmafia at Encore

Ritchie With A T of Injury Reserve
Last Wednesday's show at Encore featured performances from two hip-hop acts fiercely dedicated to their artistic visions. Tempe, Arizona trio Injury Reserve has steadily been amassing an online following over the past few years, mainly through word-of-mouth in underground hip-hop communities and positive reviews from popular critics. The group's hour-long headlining set eventually eased into tracks from their early, jazz-sampling days, but focused mainly on the more adventurous music from their two most recent releases.

The first song of the set was the tense, club-inspired "TenTenths," performed from behind the stage's rear LED screen, but with live video of Stepa and Ritchie rapping streamed onto it. The two emcees then descended the stairs and joined producer/DJ Parker for a fiery rendition of "Oh Shit!!!," a fan favorite from their 2016 album "Floss" on which their fans screaming the chorus completely drowned out the sound of the PA.

Aside from the vigor and focus shown by the group's three members, the most impressive element of the show was the stage setup that the group seems to have DIY-ed together. A series of computer monitors lined the top of a mirrored box that Ritchie later climbed inside of and rapped from. Stepa also climbed to the top of the box as fake snow rained down on him during a performance of the group's emotive slow-burner "Drive North." Throughout the show, these monitors flickered with snarky political quips, song lyrics, and videos to match each song.

Baltimore-based rapper/producer Jpegmafia opened the show by pondering aloud the day's controversial Kanye West tweets. Peggy, as he's affectionately referred to by fans, was vocal about the massive impact that West has had on his music -- and likely Injury Reserve's -- as he reckoned with his most recent actions in real time. Injury Reserve's following set chalked up an impressive amount of highlights for a tour of its size, but Peggy gave them a run for their money, hopping into the crowd for moshpits, serving up rare throwback tracks, and speaking in quotables. One song's introduction included a threat of "beat[ing] Morrissey's ass" on sight." His experimental and energetic performance set the bar high just on premise; his ability to superbly ride his own minimalist production was the cherry on top.

Full photo gallery here.

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