Review: The GZA @ Neumos 8/26

I was very excited to see GZA of the Wu-Tang clan perform his legendary album, Liquid Swords, in its entirety. The crowd was a diverse bunch of frat boys, b-boys with comically baggy and loudly graphic Wu-Wear, aging 30somethings on a nostalgia trip (myself included), and a 16 year-old kid who, as the GZA pointed out, was a year old when Liquid Swords came out. Joints were smoked. People had their fists in the air, waiving them like they just didn’t care for the whole show.

The crowd was at a fever pitch when the opening strains of the first track (“When I was little…”) began, but, after the initial thrill wore off, the law of diminishing returns was in effect. There seemed to be a miscommunication between the GZA and the DJ, as an entire verse of the opening track got dropped, depriving me of my favorite rhyme on the album: “Style is old like Mark V sneakers/lyrics is weak like clock radio speakers.” The GZA stopped to explain to his DJ which hand gesture meant “cut” and which one meant “drop” the beat. (This was far too technical for me to understand.) There also was an issue with “Duel of the Iron Mic” but I believed they played it again later in the show. (Things were getting a little hazy at that point.) Most egregiously, it was hard to hear GZA and, when he is performing an album with so many great lyrics and rhymes, that was a real disappointment. It was one of those shows where the event was probably more important than the performance, with the crowd thanking the GZA for a classic album and he appreciated all the support.

If you missed the show, go buy a copy, smoke a bong hit or ten, and put on some headphones and listen to it start to finish.

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