Vampire Weekend band members might have some choice words to describe democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, but “A-Punk” definitely isn’t one of them.
Band lead singer and guitarist, Ezra Koenig, and drummer and percussionist, Chris Tomson, took the mic at a Northwestern University Sanders rally on Friday, March 11 in support of the democratic nominee. The stoner-friendly duo urged students to join them at the Evanston Civic Center for early voting in Illinois’ primary later that day.
The gathering, held at the off-campus Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) house, originally held a litany of esteemed attendees, including Ben and Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield and Chicago-area activist Ja’Mal D Green. However, Koenig and Tomson assumed the unofficial position of event headline.
According to The Daily Northwestern, Koenig admitted the group’s campaigning efforts stemmed partially from his voting registration guilt.
“I’m going to be honest with you guys, a few months ago I checked to make sure I could vote in New York, but I missed the deadline to register as a Democrat,” Koenig said to the crowd of nearly 200 undergraduate students. “That’s why I feel such shame, anything I can do — even if it literally means walking with some college students to go vote — is the only way that I can help my guilty conscience.”
After their address, the two performed a rocky rendition of “A-Punk,” followed by their self-led march to the civic center for voting. According to The Daily, Evanston city clerk, Rodney Greene, reported that over 3,500 people voted at the Civic Center by late-day Friday. He added that, given the 280 voters by 1 p.m. on Friday, around 100 of them were likely Northwestern students.
Although Koenig and Tomson’s pro-Sanders sentiments might have influenced student-voter opinions, Koenig said his main focus was getting students to vote at all, regardless of political bias.
“Whether it’s Bernie or Hillary or Cruz, or whoever, I think it’s important to vote full stop,” he told The Daily. “We’re specifically saying that we support Bernie, but I think that voting is super important.”
According to him and Koenig, the group has always been attracted to Sanders’ consistency as a candidate.
Although Koenig and Tomson aren’t known for their political activism, they’ve chosen to continue encouraging student voting and advocate on Sanders’ behalf by also attending rallies at St. Augustine College, the University of Illinois and Argo Community High School.