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Rostam kept it personal, intimate and beautiful on Saturday night at the El Rey Theatre, where he headlined in support of his album “Half-Light.” The singer-songwriter-composer — full name, Rostam Batmanglij, who for a decade played in the indie band Vampire Weekend — entered to a string quartet playing the instrumental version of “Don’t Let It Get to You” before joining in for the “reprise” version.
At one point Rostam asked if there were any Persians in the crowd, adding that he had asked this question every night of tour. After his question was answered by a large eruption of cheers, he added, “I think that is the best response we’ve gotten. This song is for you all.” He then played “Wood,” the first solo song he posted to the internet some seven years ago and one that has its roots in ancient Persian music. Later, before he performed “When,” Rostam dedicated the song to Emma Gonzalez — the Florida teenager who has become an activist after the shooting at her high school in Parkland, Fla. — telling the crowd to “watch her speech if you don’t know who she is” and that he is “putting trust into young people.” He followed that song by saying, “Now we’ll play some pretty songs for the rest of the evening, I promise.”
In the crowd for the night was Kelly Zutrau, who normally sings on the album’s title track but who, Rostam explained, had just gotten off a flight from New York. Also in the crowd were his former bandmates Chris Baio and Chris Tomson. Before playing his last song, “Don’t Let It Get To You,” Rostam said that L.A. has been “my home for 4 1/2 years now and I don’t think I’ll ever leave. This has been a wonderful homecoming, thank you all.”
Philadelphia’s Joy Again opened the night.
Photos by Jessica Hanley