Rostam, by his own estimation, has two hits: “Wood” and “Bike Dream.” One’s a heady slice of psychedelia that prompts the singer to shout out to the Persians in the audience. The other’s a dreamy love song about boys loving boys that beats with the train-transfer pulse of New York City livin’.
Rostam, by my estimation, knows himself pretty well, if that’s what he thinks are his two big guns. And that might be why he sold out 3TEN ACL Live on Thursday, in the Austin stop of the extended tour behind his debut solo album, “Half-Light.” His songs left feet slightly disconnected from the ground, and they gave boyfriends words of romance that didn’t need pronoun switches. There was a glimmer everywhere you looked and listened.
The indie super-producer and former Vampire Weekend backbone — full name Rostam Batmanglij — gushed throughout his set about this Austin engagement, which he said felt like a homecoming show. Hard not to feel at home when you’re putting so much of yourself up there. Rostam opened with the last song on “Half-Light,” a stirringly tender “Don’t Let It Get To You (Reprise)”: “Please don’t let it get to you/Even if you don’t realize it/It’s all still up to you.”
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The man on stage might have felt like he was coming home, but that small room was on a different planet entirely the entire set. The title track from the album swam in tones that gave me Ryan Adams-in-space. The aforementioned “Bike Dream,” with its story of two boys (one to love you sweetly, one who does so discreetly), raced through the room with intoxicating, noisy glee. Rostam’s string quartet classed the joint up considerably, too.
No Vampire Weekend songs in sight, but Rostam dropped in “It’s Not My Fault (It’s My Fault)” from Discovery, his 2009 project with Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles. The best non-”Half-Light” cut of the night was Rostam’s cover of Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” (prefaced by an admission that he used to spend a lot of time on Radiohead message boards growing up). If you didn’t see a through-line between those three artists before, you certainly did once you were swallowed up in a narcotic, lunar haze.
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While Rostam sang “Gwan,” which he dedicated to collaborator and former Voxtrot frontman Ramesh Srivastava in the audience, two guys behind me embraced. The sleeves of Rostam’s tie-dyed T-shirt were an extension of the mic, the singer planting his feet and holding the stand with both hands like a telescope. Night skies and swirling, stylized florals cast their light from the back of the stage.
Rostam’s voice, breathy and eager but capable of bright light, spilled stars and snow from his heart and into everyone’s ears, until the clock nearly glanced midnight.