Free At Noon Flashback: Rostam delivers expansive experience with Half-Light

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Rostam | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Rostam Batmanglij released his debut LP Half-Light on September 15th, and to say that it was a long time coming is a definite understatement. It was six years ago this month that Rostam’s first solo track – and now Half-Light track – “Wood” was released on Soundcloud, as his band Vampire Weekend recorded their chart-topping Modern Vampires of the City. 

The years since have seen Rostam leave Vampire Weekend in 2016 to pursue solo work, produce tracks on a number of records for genre-spanning artists from Solange to Carly Rae Jepson to Hamilton Leithauser, and all the while steadily release singles that would eventually become his solo debut.

Half-Light is fifteen tracks of mystical, musical magic, and at today’s Free At Noon show Rostam performed seven of them (plus a bonus Vampire Weekend cover).

Tracks as complex and intentional as these have potential to be less-than-great in live execution, but when the string quartet made their entrance any doubts of Rostam’s ability to translate from studio to stage proved completely unfounded. Rostam himself played four different instruments in the course of the show, sometimes two at once.

Opening with “EOS,” a track that is arresting in its quietness and hard-hitting where the drums and strings enter, the entire performance was an experience in expansiveness, a journey in shifting perspectives sonically and lyrically in which the destination isn’t always a conclusion.

For the Vampire Weekend-esque “Bike Dream,” Rostam performed an acoustic interpretation of the Dave Fridmann-produced track, playing the harmonica and acoustic guitar and staying at the upright piano for the record’s title track. Rostam left the stage as the quartet reprised “Don’t Let It Get To You,” allowing the beautifully-layered melodies to completely wash over the room one last time.

Listen to audio of the performance below, and download Half-Light here.

Setlist:
EOS
Don’t Let It Get To You
Wood
Bike Dream (Acoustic)
Half-Light
Young Lion (Vampire Weekend cover)
Gwan
Don’t Let It Get To You (Reprise)

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