When Foo Fighters turned up at a picket line of religio-idiots from the Westboro Baptist Church outside their Kansas City show this weekend, dancing to Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ on the back of a truck, it wasn’t the first time Grohl had comically kicked against these pricks. At a previous Kansas City Foos show back in 2011, when the church turned out en masse outside to make some fairly colourful assumptions about what God thinks, the band dressed up as a camp country band and rode up to them on a flat-bed truck to play ‘Keep It Clean (Hot Buns)’, in which Grohl declares “got a hankering for something, think I’m in the mood for some hot man muffins”.
They’re not the only musicians to have protested the notorious, openly homophobic Westboro Baptist Church though. Here’s a few others to have fought back…
Criticising an Australian DJ for suggesting there was “something wrong with lesbians” brought the sign-based wretch of the WBC down upon Lorde’s Kansas City show last year. The New Zealander’s response? Tweeting fans instructing them to turn up in rainbow clothing. “Try to kiss church members who are same sex as you. They will so love it,” she added.
Taylor Swift, or as the WBC know her “the whorish face of doomed America”, hit Kansas City in 2013 with Ed Sheeran in support. Sheero’s reaction? “Keep your homophobic views to yourself, it’s 2013,” he tweeted, not realising that he was using modern means to reach a group who think it’s still 1643.
You know what they say – if you can’t beat ’em, film a porno on their lawn. Or so thought Californian punk act Get Shot!, the self-proclaimed “sleaziest band in the world”, who filmed their bassist Laura Lush stripping naked and masturbating in the WBC’s front garden. “As a bisexual woman and the bass player of a ridiculous punk band, I wanted to spread my legs and cause controversy,” she said.
Slayer took the totally opposite tack when the WBC declared that they’d be picketing the funeral of their guitarist Jeff Hanneman. “Want to really piss off the Westboro Baptist Church at Jeff’s Memorial Celebration?” they wrote on Facebook. “Do exactly what Slayer members and family are going to do – totally ignore them. They don’t exist. And then come inside and celebrate Jeff’s life with us.”
This turn-the-other-cheek method is perfectly admirable, but nowhere near as much fun as dropping your pants and rubbing both cheeks in their disgusted faces. When the church protested at a Radiohead show in KC in 2012, describing the band as “freak monkeys with mediocre tunes”, producer Nigel Godrich tweeted a picture of the members claiming it was “the highlight of the tour”.
PANIC! AT THE DISCO
Panic! employed the classic modern tactic of turning their protest against itself. For every protester that turned up outside their Kansas City show last July, they pledged to donate $20 to gay rights charity Human Rights Campaign. Since only 13 Westboro donks showed up, they upped their donation to $1,000, only to endure weeks of the WBC making lame gay-bashing parodies of their songs online.
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US hardcore band Touche Amore took this idea one step further on the death of WBC founder Fred Phelps in March last year. They printed up T-shirts featuring Phelps’ face alongside the slogan ‘GOOD RIDDANCE’ and sold them to raise funds for the same charity. “We feel there is beautiful irony in selling an image of a bigot and using the profit towards achieving equality for exactly what they hated,” said singer Jeremy Bolm.