Scenes From Last Night's Gunplay Show at Trees.
Thursday night's show at Trees was all about build-up.
The whole thing started rather slowly. There were patches of empty floor space throughout the long line of opening acts that preceded Florida rapper Gunplay's headlining set in the room.
But, as the night progressed, the opening acts built more energy. Same went for the crowd.
Seems most of those who made it out to this Deep Ellum venue on this frigid week night were longtime fans of Gunplay's, and his alone. Still, they endured the opening acts all the same. Hell, they even enjoyed a few of them — most notably Memphis-based artist X Wulf, who had drawn at least a few cult followers of his own to the show and was quick to earn himself some new fans. It was during his set that the heads out in the crowd finally started bobbing and the girls started to show off their moves.
Dallas' own Fat Pimp only built on that energy. Throughout his performance, he set the tone and vibe for the rest of the night, inviting a few of the crowd's birthday girls to the stage and kicking off a twerk session complete with thrown-in-the-air dollar bills. All the while, announcements of the Def Jam- and Maybach Music-approved Gunplay's presence in the building kept alive the promise of more to come.
Earlier in the night, before Gunplay arrived at Trees, he and his team made a stop elsewhere — to 97.9 KBFB-FM The Beat's studio, where on-air personality J Cruz interviewed the rapper on the air to promote the gig.
It felt mechanical, the whole process. And it was, in a way: On the ride to Trees, Gunplay escaped in his headphones, zoning out into the city lights and construction disaster of Dallas' highway system.
“I zone out and see the show before it happens,” Gunplay announced to his fellow passengers as he slipped off into his pre-show zone. “I don't want to forget my lines. “
No such thing would happen, though. At the start of his set, Gunplay entered the stage with his Lil Wayne-featuring “Beat the Shit” song, fully prepared to offer up an engaging set. The crowd was ready, too: They performed in a way as welll, lip-syncing in exact unison with the on-stage performance. Later, they would even mosh — during “Tell Em Daddy,” a never-before-played or -performed song, no less.
It was live, to say the least. But, just 10 or so songs later, it was over.
Still, the performance felt vital — even if, compared to the litany of opening acts, it felt short. The crowd didn't seem to mind, though. Neither did Gunplay, who'd intentionally kept himself from getting too hype on too many illicit substances prior to hitting the stage.
“I feel the difference between performing sober [and not],” he said after the show. “Just a little weed, a little drink — that's sober to me. I feel more sharp. I remember my lyrics better.”
He remembers the shows better this way, too. And, to be sure, he said he'll remember this one.
“I love Dallas,” Gunplay said before leaving the venue for the night. “There's good business — and money.”