Vampire Weekend Played This Classic Song in Honor of Bernie Sanders in Iowa

Hint: Sanders once covered it.


Caucus season in Iowa produces weird, unexpected scenes. As I walked into a coffee shop in downtown Iowa City on Saturday afternoon for a writing pit stop between campaign events, I noticed a growing crowd in the far back of the room. Turns out the indie band Vampire Weekend (joined by a member of fellow Brooklyn hipster band Dirty Projectors), scheduled to play a major rally for Bernie Sanders later this evening, had announced on Twitter that they’d be playing a pre-show warm-up set at the coffee house, and the college kids from the University of Iowa had quickly flocked. Pressed into a corner in a packed room, it was difficult to get a good head count, but the wall-to-wall crowd easily numbered into the several hundred.

Was the young crowd there for Bernie, or just a free show? Mostly the latter from my vantage point. Joey Sogard, a sophmore at Iowa State University, made the two-hour drive for the rally. So a big Bernie supporter, right? “Well, more Vampire Weekend and Foster the People,” Sogard said, mentioning another band scheduled to play at Sanders rally. Well, would he at least be caucusing for Sanders? “I don’t know what caucusing is, I’ve been explained a thousand times, but I don’t know,” he said with a laugh.

The friends he had roadtripped with were more definitive Sanders fans, though. Zoey Mauck, an Iowa-native familiar with the caucusing process, said she would be in Sanders’ camp Monday night. “I just like his stance on a lot of issues, especially the environmental stuff,” she said. “Something about Bernie I just really like. But if it goes Hillary, I don’t really care.”

Nearby, a woman wearing a zebra-patterned-bear backpack was handing out buttons and stickers emblazoned with a Donald-Trump-as-fly-covered-feces design.

When the band took the stage, they encouraged the crowd to come to watch Sanders speak later in the evening—”that’s what this is all about,” lead singer Ezra Koenig said—but the crowd mostly saved its applause for Vampire Weekend’s hits. Still, Koenig did his best to keep things focused on the Bern, explaining that they mostly wanted to play a pre-rally set in order to tune up, since “we cannot embarrass ourselves in front of Bernie.”

The short, six-song set ended with a rendition of “This Land is Your Land,” which Koenig said was in honor of the album of folk covers Sanders recorded in 1987.

“How dope would it be to have a recording artist in the White House,” Koenig wondered to the students.

“Kanye 2020!” Came a shout from the crowd.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate