september 7 - september 11

Writer/ Driver/ All round good guy: Michael

Writer/ Driver/ All round good guy: Michael

Beauty Sleep is one of Belfast's greatest exports. We big time love 'em. Here's an insight into four Northern Irish folk running amok in Germany. 

Before you read this, I have to confess I am not a member of Beauty Sleep. I am only their driver and post-gig validator. The reason I’m writing this is because one member is from Portadown so I’m assuming she’s illiterate and the other two are from Derry city so they can barely speak English, never mind write it. Anyway, I’ll leave the provincial barbs in Belfast and ask you to come with me to an exotic place full of wonder, far, far away. Dublin Airport.

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THURSDAY: We arrive at Dublin Airport at an ungodly hour of the morning. Everything is shut. Everyone is operating on a dinner of Lidl gin and pistachio nuts except Aimee, who somehow managed to get a long snooze in before an 11:30pm dinner, like some sort of Spaniard. The Airport looks like it’s suffered a toxic gas leak. There’s lifeless bodies strewn everywhere, and like all good toxic gas leaks, not a pint to be had. We hang out at a closed McDonalds, and are almost Mufasa’d to death by morning flyers looking their fix of sub-par food and coffee. My cheese toastie looked (and tasted) like a child’s drawing of a cheese toastie.

A feed of pints at five o’clock in the morning is a beautiful experience and the flight flew by. I didn’t even mean that but it’s staying in.

We get off the bus in drizzly Berlin, greeted by our hosts Maggie and Eilis from Party Fears, themselves fairly new to Berlin but already running their own monthly gigs and navigating the neighbourhoods like locals. I’m going to be perfectly honest with you now, this was essentially the only day where I had nothing to be at, so the details of this day are a little hazy. I know there was an omelette and heap of beer and lots of nice Spotify playlists by our hosts, but that’s about it.

The great thing about Berlin is it’s the default capital of Europe and now the west ever since America shit the togs. It wears it’s incredible history on every street, seen in every interaction between the natives and in every nooky coffee shop on every grubby corner. The other good thing is the beers were two euro so aside from The Wall I saw nothing Berlin had to offer tourist-wise. But this isn’t a travel guide so shite on over to The Guardian if you want that.

The first gig of the short tour was a pop up venue three stories up in an old appropriated warehouse. The warehouse wouldn’t have looked out of place in a found-footage horror movie, but that feeling was offset by a friendly audience, caring promoters and a soundman from Middlesborough. Beauty Sleep headlined and the night was one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve ever been steaming at. The communal spirit was a testament to the organizers Maggie and Eilis (henceforth to be referred to as Maeilish)

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My idea of a perfect Saturday morning is waking up on the floor to a dozen missed calls and a ringing phone. Cheylene must have known that because at 10am on Saturday morning she took a bit of time out of her own hangover to make sure I awoke to just that. Myself and Chey were tasked with travelling to Tegel airport to get the hire car. Ryan and Aimee were tasked with laying in bed filling Maeilish’s rooms full of farts. There were no winners this particular Saturday morning. After a few false starts (forgotten passports, bus confusion, general existential dread) we managed to board the tube to Tegel, me barely functioning and Cheylene functioning with the giddy dizziness and exhausting positivity of a child on cocaine. As the doors shut and the train took off, the tube filled with an intense smell of human shit. Everyone panicked and checked their nags, or at least I did anyway. The smell was putrid and one lad began spraying lynx deodorant around. It mixed nicely with the smell of shit and for a moment I was right back in the locker rooms after PE in the Christian Brothers Grammar School.

We got out of the speeding shit pipe and headed to the car rental place to be told that due to our lateness they had given the car away. We paced about the the hire centre like confused vagrants until they gave us a car just to get us out of the road. Only when one of us said ‘God I never knew Berlin city had such lovely farmland’ did we realise we’d drove 45 minutes in the wrong direction out of Berlin and away from Ryan and Aimee.

I definitely didn’t almost nearly cry before we turned back to collect the guys and the equipment. We bade farewell to Maelish and headed for Leipzig, three hours late, hungover and smelling faintly of shit.

The Leipzig venue was a place called Horns Erbern. It looked like a scene from a Wes Anderson movie, or an Instagram post of that cool barista you’re too afraid to talk to. It was nice is what I’m trying to say. We arrived just as Beauty Sleep were supposed to start, but the headline act June Coco decided she would open the night instead. Pure sound.

It was a seated gig with a red velvet curtains and a grand piano, a far cry from the previous night’s warehouse, and a quiet and attentive (full house) crowd. This caused much bamboozlement within Beauty Sleep as they tried to decide how to approach the gig, but once they hit the stage the crowd invested in their performance and the band were clapped back on for an encore.

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We hit the road early Sunday for the big bad bastard drive to Stuttgart. Sunday night’s venue is Cafe Galao, a fairly central basement cafe bar with windows looking out at shin height of the smokers and diners outside. With the help of the entire smoking area we get the Ford Galaxy parked right outside the venue and head in. The promoter/owner of the bar was called Reiner, and whispers of his hospitality had already reached the band back in Belfast. He didn’t disappoint:
‘First, we will drink. Then we will smoke. After that, we order food. While the food is being cooked, we will set up. If the food is ready, we eat first. If not, we can sound check and then eat’.
A continual stream of alcohol in various guises was brought to the band and plenty of glasses were clinked. The locals were friendly and enthusiastic (Hi Ben and Lina!) and the band were energized. By the time they took the stage, the sun had set and the cafe was lit almost entirely by candle light. They played a brilliant set, rounding off a weekend of three great but three entirely different gigs.

Reiner led us up to our accommodation for the night, which was his place above the cafe. He’d knocked through all the walls and built the most impressive apartment I had ever seen. It looked like The Burrow from the Harry Potter books, but on acid and not full of wanker Weasleys. In the morning he brought us down and fed us a huge breakfast. Goodbye Stuttgart.

We left Stuttgart for Frankfurt airport, buoyed by the generosity of spirit and the kindness afforded to a trio of pissheads and their driver who just wanted to play some tunes. For any musicians reading, Germany set the standard for gigs and hospitality in every way.

Also everyone in Germany is gorgeous.

Written by Michael McCullagh - stage name Son of the Hound

Twitter - @sonofhound

Instagram - @sonofthehound