High Times With Guy Gerber on Coachella's Ferris Wheel
Guy Gerber (center) with assistants Lauren Rolls (left) and Pao Lopez (right)
It's kind of amazing that Guy Gerber is still conscious right now. He's leaning up against his backstage trailer, minutes after a 90-minute set at the Yuma tent, sipping leisurely from a plastic glass of vodka. The DJ sports a fitted blue shirt, black skinny jeans and Beatle boots, and dark shades underscored by a gold henna lightening bolt above his cheek.
As he laughs and talks with friends and rail thin party girls, it's hard to believe that barely six hours ago, he was boarding a plane back to Indio for his second week at Coachella. The night before, he DJed for six hours straight at Marquee nightclub in New York, almost 3,000 miles away. The night before that, he was manning the decks all night at a club in San Francisco. It's a tiring schedule that sounds impervious to even the most potent party drugs. For what it's worth, the party the DJ left on the other side of the country sounded well worth the jet lag.
"I started playing and at 11:45 p.m., by 12:30 a.m. I was already drunk," Gerber says laughing. The DJ's thick, Israeli accent makes all his "Ts" sound like "Zs." "We had maybe 20 girls in the DJ booth and things got so sexual. Ze girls were all making out with each other. I've never seen something so crazy."
For plenty of Coachella goers, Gerber might be just another suave-looking, European DJ enticing enough to stumble upon during Day 2 of the fest. But the world traveling techno DJ from Tel Aviv has been a badass in the dance music world for well over a decade. He's also the founder go his own techno label, Supplement Facts. However, much of the the mainstream is just now learning his name thanks to his unlikely collaboration with Diddy on their ballyhooed forthcoming album, 11:11. But even with such a major co-sign and a golden career in his own right, he's not above leaving VIP land and actually partying at the festival, or having a journalist in his midst when he does. Joining us are his lovely assistants Pao Lopez and Lauren Rolls.
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"To be able to come back a second weekend, not just play for a day and leave, it makes you feel like you are a part of Coachella," Gerber says was we walk out onto the field. It takes about 10 seconds for a fan with khaki shorts, blond hair and glasses to come greet him.
"Guy, hey man I just wanted to say a friend of mine turned me onto you and..." The dude barely gets the sentence out before he reaches out to shake Gerber's hand and accidentally knocks the DJ's vodka glass and spills it all over the Gerber's shirt collar."
"Nice move," Gerber says, grinning it off as he shakes the fan's hand and walks toward MGMT, performing at dusk on the Coachella Stage. At this point in his 24-hour party cycle, few things can really distract Gerber from a good time as he exchanges laughs and whispers with his assistants (who always seem to have at least three different inside jokes going at once). Lopez, a petite, dark-haired Colombian dressed in a fitted black two piece outfit, is a perfect playmate for Rolls, a thin, gregarious blond in a black halter top and breezy, multi-colored bell bottoms.
Gerber is quickly assembling a small tribe of people as he journeys deeper into the fest--Guy's manager, Jason Armon, his girlfriend and an array of festival pals are with him now. It makes the congo line weaving in and out of MGMT's set and into the VIP section a little tough to follow as Gerber talks about his relationship with Diddy since they started making their album. Meanwhile, his assistants are dancing and swirling around him to the playful synth lines of MGMT's "Kids" like it's the summer of 2007.
Gerber's Coachella tribe
"Diddy, I fucking love zis guy," he says about his new partner with a smile. Rumors circled last week about him even joining Gerber on stage at the Yuma tent. And although he was there, the two actually never performed together, though the DJ says they partied at a private location later on that night. In interviews Diddy has said much of the time he and Gerber spent creating their album was "after hours," which sounds perfect for an album of all-night party music. So the fact that it's taken about four years might not be such a surprise. "To produce my album would just take a few months, to produce a Diddy album, it takes like a year, to do something that sounds like me and him together takes a long time, it had to sounds like me and him and I think we did it."
With his Coachella tribe in toe, Gerber is moving like a caffeinated teenager tonight as we hop from grabbing a bite to eat for L.A. restaurant Eveleigh, and then back onto the field as his assistants Lopez and Rolls trail just behind. "Keeping track of Guy at stuff like this is...impossible at times," Lopez says laughing. She and Gerber have been friends for many years. "We keep him in check though, we make sure sure he gets around okay," adds Rolls.
As we walk, one of the girls in the group sticks out her hand cupping what looks like pile of dried wood shavings. It's actually chopped-up shrooms. She offers some and I oblige, considering I'd heard their plans of going on the ferris wheel in the near future. Various people in the group divvy up the rest. Noshing on stems and pieces of caps, it's hard to tell how much I've actually taken as we weave back through the festival, once again its a struggle to keep up with Guy as he darts ahead of the crowds. Even still, he says the mellow vibe of Weekend 2 is just what he needs right now.
"For me last week was too much. People were like dying to party, it was insane," Gerber says. "This week is more mellow." That seems to be the general consensus about week 2 for most festival goers. Of course Gerber still hasn't shown many signs of slowing down all evening.
Sometime later, as we finally prepare to board the giant, glowing ferris wheel--my brain and skin start to tingle as the shrooms kick in standing next to Guy and his flock. My eyes are locked upward, gazing at the lights and mechanical intricacies of the Coachella's circular, spinning Goliath as it glows in the desert sky. After several minutes, it's our turn to board and my body is starting to hum like a tuning fork as we prepare for lift off. The ferris wheel is overpacked with Gerber and friends.
A view from the top of the ferris wheel
On the ride up, Gerber stands up with the girls to get a good look down at Foster the People playing the mainstage with swarms of people crowding the polo grounds like ants in a densely packed, Technicolor dream world. For a brief moment, there's something about rocking around on this ferris wheel with a first time Coachellite like Gerber that makes even a hardened Indio vet like myself feel like a newbie all over again. With his arms around his girlfriend and Lopez looking over the festival lights, Gerber's relaxing second weekend has come to the high point of the night for both of us, in one way or another.
"We take a selfie right now, yes. We are at Coachella!" He says. "Zis is what we do here, selfies!" As much as I am sick of the oversaturation of Instagram Coachella pics, at this point, in a time like this I had to agree with him....yes, zis is what we do.
Gerber taking a selfie on the ferris wheel
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