‘Basic human rights are being rejected’: Northern Ireland’s anti-DUP protest music

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09/27/2019

The dark upstairs room of an old sports bar in Belfast is an unassuming venue for a revolution. Against a backdrop of silver streamers and placards from the pro-choice rally that has just taken place, a small crowd gathers as Sister Ghost blast out a rendition of Nirvana’s Love Buzz. Vocalist Shannon Delores O’Neill sings in impassioned yelps, continually falling to her knees, eyes closed, and dropping the microphone at the end of the song. Nirvana played the track at the first ever Rock for Choice benefit in Hollywood, California, in 1991. Sister Ghost are performing it at a fundraiser for the same cause. Likewise, garage rockers Hand Models’ song Last Leaves on a Tree was not written with the intention of being a protest, but the final chorus erupts into surprise chants of “Fuck the DUP!” “We’ve seen our friends affected firsthand by legislation in Northern Ireland denying LGBT rights,” explains frontman Gareth Murray. The track details one man’s relocation to Dublin to find himself a husband and avoid “breaking a civil law” in a place where same-sex marriage is banned. The song is inspired by the true story of a friend of Pete Devine, the band’s lyricist.

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