Concert Reviews

Wu Tang's GZA Played Chess With Fans And Packed the House in Deep Ellum

Hip-hop icon GZA brought us back with a show at Trees.
Hip-hop icon GZA brought us back with a show at Trees. Vera "Velma" Hernandez
At 5 p.m. Friday, people lounged around The Weed Spot in Deep Ellum, waiting for their chance to meet GZA, aka "The Genius," one of the original founding members of Wu-Tang Clan.

The meet-and-greet, where GZA would be playing chess with fans, was supposed to be at 5, but it was pushed back until 6. The fans didn't really seem to mind. It gave the event's emcee time to come up with ideas for a shirt raffle and a sing-along game in which the song would get cut off and the participant would have to keep singing. The latter was suggested, but didn't end up happening.

GZA ended up playing three matches of chess, and won all three. There were 5-minute timers set for each match, and it was beyond rad to see both players take the game so seriously and in a state of ultimate concentration. GZA's brow furrowed as his opponents made tricky moves, but ended up overpowering them and finishing the games swiftly and with finesse.
click to enlarge Fans waited for a chance to play chess with a rap god. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Fans waited for a chance to play chess with a rap god.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

The VIP party moved next door after it became uncomfortably hot in the store. There, chef Justin Box was whipping up a four-course meal consisting of a beet and wild greens salad, risotto, a corn bisque with aquafaba 'mallow fluff, and a dessert that paid homage to the man himself: Wu-Tang shortbread cookies he'd whipped up the night prior.
click to enlarge GZA planning his next move. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
GZA planning his next move.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

All the while, GZA continued with his meet-and-greet, signing items the VIP pass holders had brought with them, having convos with fans, and then taking photos with them and their signed items.
click to enlarge GZA played chess with fans and won all the matches. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
GZA played chess with fans and won all the matches.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

Then, the party got started at Trees. The emcee, Robert "Robski" Bell, owner of promoter Galaxy 9, would not let anybody forget that this was a Galaxy 9 event. And if you accidently forgot after the sixth time of his mentioning it, don't worry, he'd remind you at least nine more times throughout the night. And they had something to be proud of: Mga Czar, Thomas Who? and Saba the Godis where among the opening acts, all under the Galaxy 9 umbrella.
click to enlarge Chef Justin Box served a four-course meal at the VIP event. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Chef Justin Box served a four-course meal at the VIP event.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

The DJ brought us back to the old school. The emcee kept bantering, joking, nearly fighting with an unruly audience member and throwing Galaxy 9 shirts at people in between sets. The jokes became less funny and the crowd began getting more restless as the time reached 11 p.m. Smoke started coming from every corner of the room and it wasn't from fog machines. At 11:18, GZA finally hit the stage.
click to enlarge GZA and the event's emcee, Galaxy 9 owner RRobski. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
GZA and the event's emcee, Galaxy 9 owner RRobski.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

With a set consisting of Wu-Tang and Liquid Sword bangers, every head was bopping for the too-short, hour-long set. The venue was packed from the floor to its balconies. Fans of every age came out for this sick show. Everybody in the room sang along to every line the entire time. Every time the DJ dropped the sound, the crowd kept it going.
click to enlarge GZA signed items for fans. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
GZA signed items for fans.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

This was a night for true GZA fans. Fingers were made into Ws, held in the air for the majority of the time, as the loud music kept every head nodding. GZA paced back and forth, spitting out bars, shaking hands, and even signing a few albums that were handed to him from the front of the crowd. 
click to enlarge Chef Justin Box's menu included Wu Tang cookies. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Chef Justin Box's menu included Wu Tang cookies.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
The only time GZA really paused was to wipe the sweat off his face; it is Texas after all, and the heat was pretty unforgiving.
click to enlarge ... And then posed with fans and their signed items. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
... And then posed with fans and their signed items.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

The show ran a perfect gamut of hype to chill. One of the most exciting moments came in the form of an Ol' Dirty Bastard cover, "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." GZA and Dallas let everyone know that Wu-Tang Clan is still nothing to fuck with.
click to enlarge The night was filled with opening acts from the Galaxy 9 roster. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
The night was filled with opening acts from the Galaxy 9 roster.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge Up-and-coming rappers entertained the crowd before GZA took to the Trees stage. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Up-and-coming rappers entertained the crowd before GZA took to the Trees stage.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge Saba tha Godis was one of the openers for GZA. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Saba tha Godis was one of the openers for GZA.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge Galaxy 9 showacsed its talent on Friday. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Galaxy 9 showacsed its talent on Friday.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge The DJ killed at Trees on Friday. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
The DJ killed at Trees on Friday.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge Producer Jah Born, left, with his protegee Kaution Mr. 700 (middle). - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Producer Jah Born, left, with his protegee Kaution Mr. 700 (middle).
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge The openers kept up the energy as GZA fans grew restless. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
The openers kept up the energy as GZA fans grew restless.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge GZA finally took the stage after 11 p.m. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
GZA finally took the stage after 11 p.m.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge GZA was worth the wait on Friday. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
GZA was worth the wait on Friday.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge There were lots of Wu-Tang fans in the crowd at Trees. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
There were lots of Wu-Tang fans in the crowd at Trees.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge The crowd went wild for GZA. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
The crowd went wild for GZA.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge Trees was packed for GZA's show. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Trees was packed for GZA's show.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge GZA looked happy to take the stage on Friday night. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
GZA looked happy to take the stage on Friday night.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
click to enlarge The only tinme GZA paused was to wipe off the sweat. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
The only tinme GZA paused was to wipe off the sweat.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
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