Having interviewed A Guy Called Gerald a few weeks ago for the Issue 18, I decided to go and see the man play. It has been quite some time since I witnessed his masterful use of all things electronic, so the chance to see him at an open-air free party to celebrate the closing of an exhibition of urban artwork by the Back Jumps crew, seemed like a golden opportunity not to be missed. I was sure as hell right!
As the sun began to set and we wound our way through the backstreets of Berlin’s coolest and most diverse area, Kreuzberg, we could hear the bass of a sound system. Passing kebab shop after kebab shop, winding between mothers pushing three prams each and narrowly avoiding contact with untold quantities of cyclists, we stumbled upon a bronze fountain that depicted three firemen shooting their hoses into the air. This signified the beginning of the park in which Bethanian Art House stands. The former hospital is one of many buildings converted to useful studios for artists of all types. Painters, DJs, bands and photographers share the vast space adorned with bright yellow walls and sterile floors.
At the edge of Mariannen Platz, we still can’t see the source of the now audible music. After a minute of stalking through the trees we see a small tent sheltering two tables staked with samplers, laptops and turntables, and a group of a few hundred people littering the natural bowl that the ground cuts. Fortunately, we arrived just before Gerald was about to go on, so we take a moment to view the art work, before retiring to the bar, where a man offered us a sip of some liquid from a hollowed out watermelon.
A refreshing cool beer and a shot of un-poisoned vodka did the trick instead. By now, a number of people have begun to move towards the previously isolated tent in the centre of the bowl, and a few begin to dance.
Gerald brought his big smile and mastery to the floor just after 8:30 (he left his headphones at home, so a friend had to run and get them, I promised I wouldn’t say that, but come on, it’s quite funny…). He began his set with a pounding, atmospheric track that instantly leveled people before following the grove and gradually building the fever inside those who are willing to dance before midnight (no one left 1:30am).
The grass of the bowl rocked to the stomping feet of men, women, and a number of children who live in the houses surrounding this parkland. Let us not forget that this is happening in the middle of a city, and ther are no police visible, not one security guard, and, for that matter, not a single annoyed resident. There is indeed no aggravation of any form either. No fights, just everyone having a good time and going about their evening. A group of Turkish families are having barbeques 50 yards away.
Here’s an exclusive: On October 6th (my birthday by the way, feel free to send cards and money via Big Shot), A Guy Called Gerald will take part in an event in Corsica Studios, London. Located under the arches of Elephant and Castle, he will, for the first time in over ten years, join forces with Graham Massey. For those of you too young to remember, this means a reunion of the band that gave us the immense “Pacific,” Manchester’s very own 808 State. (OK, so they are one guy short, but he never really did much anyway!). The Wang club night that hosts this event has built up a quality reputation over the years, and is now looking to add to it with this incendiary combination.
Words & image: Oliver Guy-Watkins