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.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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