June 23, 2024

Armand Hammer played Union Pool

For the latest edition of the 2024 Summer Thunder Series at Union Pool, Armamd Hammer headlined a show featuring their Backwoodz Studioz label mates Cavalier, Duncecap, DJ Edan and Skech185.

On a scorching Sunday afternoon at the tail-end of a brutal heatwave that has been overtaking New York City, a crew of Backwoods Studioz finest spent the day brandishing their brutalist approaches to hip-hop over fiery beats that hit like weighted bolts of lead in the blistering temperatures. Once the duo of billy woods and E L U C I D took to the outdoor stage as Armand Hammer, the crowd gained a newfound set of energy and hunkered down for a bloodthirsty set of raw, primal raps over barbed, bullish beats. With E L U C I D hovering over a laptop, the two traded verses with established prowess and unbridled authority. Known for their strong adherence to the DIY scene and anti-establishment point of views and actions, the duo held their own with their minimal set-up and hard hitting approach on the mic. Gruff vocals and gritty rhythms are the backbone of what these two do and to witness them recite these lines in the flesh with such power is a captivating thing to behold. Even without a chorus in site, the crowd was still spitting bars right along with the rappers and hit key moments that brought things together in an uncovered, yet rather profound unity. "Landlines" and "Woke Up And Asked Siri How I'm Gonna Die" were diabolical ways to begin the set and only stopping for moments to chug water meant that these two kept up the pace for over an hour, delivering monstrous verse after monstrous verse all while under a devastating sun. After giving a shoutout to JPEGMAFIA for producing the previous beats, the duo moved into cruise control, passing things off between each other with lyrical dexterity that is unmatched, both members of the group unleashing such vicious and calculated flows that somehow bested the ones before it. They invited Cavalier back to the stage to drop in on the song "I Keep A Mirror in My Pocket," but it was the triumphant rendition of "Niggardly (Blocked Call)" that had the crowd responding with their most devout chant yet as the entire venue seemed to belt out "MY HEART PUMPS KETAMINE" in a universal retort with billy woods. During this hot streak, "Trauma Mic" and "The Gods Must Be Crazy" also shook the crowd with their ragged beats, pounding bass, and more of their confronting lyrical wit. In addition to their own hits as a duo, billy woods also took moments to bust out tracks from the best album of 2023, his collaboration with Kenny Segal, Maps. Striking with "FaceTime" and "Soft Landing," he also dropped "Asylum" from Aethiopes and it remained stunning to watch him carry the energy through these solo tracks and watch his partner in E L U C I D watch along with joy before he embarked on his own track, the crushing "Spellling." Playing to a bear stage, Armand Hammer prove that their show is all about the music, their words and the beats they're rhyming over. There's no flash or dazzle to distract from the brazen lyrics that come out of the speakers with such force and determination and the duo let their words fight their battles for them. Watching these two on stage is witnessing extreme confidence that's backed up with agitated professionalism, woods and E L U C I D are there to showcase their full-throttle talents and delivered their set with the utmost sincerity to boot. Closing with their customary blow-out track "Stonefruit," the woozy Alchemist beat circles around a dusty-groove vibe that sets it apart from the rest of their songs, but still hits with the same effect and brilliancy of any of their rougher tunes. After thanking the crowd and giving props to their friends who shared the stage, they took to their own merch table to sell vinyl and tshirts to their fans while also trading stories of past sets with their diehard set of followers who hang on to each word in their catalogue like it's gospel. Removing the barriers between the stage, the fans, and themselves as artists, Armand Hammer instill a punk rock ethos into what they do and connect on a level most others can only dream about.

Set list:

01 "Landlines"
02 "Woke Up and Asked Siri How I'm Gonna Die"
03 "The Flexible Unreliability of Time and Memory"
04 "When It Doesn’t Start With a Kiss"
05 "I Keep a Mirror in My Pocket"
06 "Asylum"
07 "Roaches Don't Fly"
08 "Indian Summer"
09 "Hunter"
10 "Niggardly (Blocked Call)"
11 "Trauma Mic"
12 "The Gods Must Be Crazy"
13 "Charms"
14 "Black Sunlight"
15 "Falling Out the Sky"
16 "Tabula Rasa"
17 "Western Education Is Forbidden"
18 "Spellling"
19 "Soft Landing"
20 "Betamax"
21 "Facetime"
22 "Stonefruit"

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