CLAIRE KOSTOHRYZ // On May 2, Rostam Batmanglij debuted his upcoming solo album at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. He sang and occasionally played guitar on stage with a string quartet to accompany him. Batmanglij came out onstage as D.C. welcomed him back, and he clicked play on his MacBook. Graphics appeared on the projector screen behind him that displayed different designs he had created. They swirled and moved with the music, flowing and striking at every beat. The audience was extremely focused to see if Batmanglij was going to be a continuation of Vampire Weekend or try and distance himself from the indie pop genre.
The answer to that question is a combination of both. After the concert, it became clear to see that he did have a very large hand in a lot of the writing and producing of Modern Vampires of the City, the last Vampire Weekend album released in 2013, shown through the use of the choir, strings, and overall more somber tone. He performed Young Lion, which showed that he does still have the band with him and that it influences his current music. He also played a song off of his album LP when he was a part of the band Discovery. This ode to 2009 showed that his heavy hand with the synthesizer has always been apparent. He played new songs off his new album such as New Morning and Bike Dreams, which definitely held a sort of freedom. Now is a time where he has full artistic control to produce and direct the exact kind of musical style he wants.
Batmanglij explained that this show was going to be divided into two “acts”: the first being more upbeat and the latter half, more introspective and calm. Occasionally, he would begin songs over after a few seconds out of nervousness, very understandable considering this was his first solo show; a perfectionist who wanted his first show to be as good as it could be. He alleged to the fact that he has been working collectively on this album since 2009, every song being tailored to perfection. Finishing the night with a reprise of Don’t Let it Get To You, the energy in the audience was one of pride, awe, and appreciation for one of the most artistic creators of our time. The audience lingered long after the band left the stage, but Batmanglij bounced back on stage to let us know that he didn’t have any more music to play for an encore.
The show overall displayed Batmanglij’s ability as an artist and as a producer. The show wasn’t just about the singing or the instrumentals. It was a combination of the graphics, the mixing, the violin, the cello, the dancing, and the lyrics. It is very clear that everything was meticulously blended and mixed together rather than tossed together. I am very eager for his album release, hopefully that information will be revealed soon enough.