As everyone braced themselves for the Iowa caucuses (voting begins tonight at 7 p.m.), candidates this weekend were making their final attempts at persuasion. Bernie Sanders’ last rally before the caucuses happened in Iowa City, where he brought out a series of big-name acts to support him, including a beloved band that recently made the news when one of its founded members quit: Vampire Weekend.
Dr. Cornel West spoke, stirring immense excitement for Sanders before the band was introduced:
This is not just a campaign, this is a moral and spiritual transformation of the nation…it’s about unapologetic love, and justice is what love looks like in public. The Bernie Sanders campaign is an attempt to convince all of us to get on the love train, get on the justice train, keep track of the poor children of any color, working people of any color, gay brothers, lesbian sisters, bisexual, transgender of any color, elderly of any color — always mindful of how the vicious legacy of white supremacy has been used to divide us. We won’t allow it to do it this time…
And of Vampire Weekend, West said:
I want to introduce to you a group that stands in the tradition of musical expression rooted in something bigger than itself. My dear beautiful brother Ezra — I’m talking about Vampire Weekend!
Due in part to the sudden lack of Rostam Batmanglij, Vampire Weekend welcomed The Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth and a student a cappella group into their band for the performance. (Foster the People and Jill Sobule also played that evening, and The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson spoke.) At one point, even Sanders became part of the concert, singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Our Land” with Vampire Weekend lead singer Ezra Koenig.
On the day of the performance, CNN interviewed Koenig about his support of Sanders. Koenig said:
In the 90s — I was a kid then — it’s easy for me to forget how messed up a lot things were then [in the Clinton era]. And there’s this Independent criticizing Democrats and Republicans, saying a lot of the same things he’s saying now. I see a consistency in him that’s rare in most human beings, let alone politicians. There’s something so cool about Bernie running as a Democrat, a guy who was the only Independent in the House for a long time, the only Independent in the Senate, a guy who comes from an outside structure and is bringing that to the Democratic party. There’s something so much more exciting [about that].
When he was asked what he makes of the Republican primary slate right now, Koenig’s only response was a meek, nonverbal sigh.
Watch the full rally:
Here’s an isolated clip of “This Land Is Your Land,” feat. Bernie: