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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.