I had been waiting for October 5th for a long time.
Last March, as I sat in a chemistry lecture hiding my phone under the desk, I bought Maggie Rogers tickets for a whopping $75, the most I’ve ever paid for a concert. At the time I wasn’t a huge fan, but I knew some of her songs and felt like I deserved to treat myself. I didn’t think much of the purchase, hastily putting my phone away to continue learning about electron orbitals.
If you’re not familiar with this young musician, it’s important to know how she’s become so successful. Twenty-five-year-old Maggie Rogers has had a crazy few years. Growing up in a small town in Maryland, Rogers learned to play the harp and the guitar at a young age. After high school, Rogers decided to attend NYU to further her music and songwriting career. Her big break came in 2016 when she played her single “Alaska” at a master class at NYU held by Pharrell Williams. Pharrell was blown away by Rogers’ lyrics and song production, telling her he had no critiques because her music was so individualistic. A video of Pharrell’s reaction to the song went viral on Youtube, and Rogers was quickly signed to a record label. She released her first debut album, Heard It In A Past Life, this past January.
Photo Credit: Ramona Rosales
Despite my initial indifference towards Maggie Rogers, over the summer I listened to her religiously. Many of my summer memories are associated with her songs, and my anticipation for her concert grew the more I fell in love with her music. There are two categories I tend to judge new music on: the lyrics and the overall sound. Some songs are catchy, but the lyrics aren’t the best (think “Old Town Road”). Other times, songs have good lyrics but the production isn’t quite right. Maggie Rogers’ tracks pass both of these categories with flying colors. Her lyrics are honest and vulnerable, describing emotions that listeners can instantly relate to. Rogers’ stylistic choices are also unique. Meshing folk guitar sounds with electronic beats, these tracks are unlike anything I’ve heard before. The combination of Rogers’ powerful lyrics and her eclectic sound is one of the many reasons why I love her so much.
You might think that all of this hype could only result in disappointment. To be honest, that’s what I was expecting too. As I walked into the Wang Theatre, I was worried that my extreme anticipation couldn’t be matched. In the lobby, there were booths for Planned Parenthood and HeadCount, two organizations Rogers partnered with to promote reproductive rights and voter participation. The theater itself was gorgeous, and I quickly found my seat and waited for the show to start. The opener, Empress Of, impressed me with her bilingual lyrics and high energy performance. The giant room buzzed with excitement as it came closer and closer to the time Maggie was set to come out.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia
When the lights dimmed, everyone cheered eagerly. The stage illuminated, and Rogers’ silhouette was projected onto a white sheet that blocked the entire stage. An immediate hush fell over the crowd. She began her first song, a chilling, slow tune that showcased her vocal range. After the slow song came to an end, the opening drum line to my favorite song, “Fallingwater,” immediately followed. The sheet dropped, and there she stood in all her glory. Sporting an all-white outfit with a shimmery shawl, Maggie Rogers looked like a literal angel. Something about the lyrics of the song, the anticipation of this moment, and the atmosphere really got to me. I was moved to tears.
As the show progressed, Maggie Rogers continued to dominate the theater with her endearing stage presence. Rogers danced and grooved the whole time she performed, all while hitting every note. She delivered a heartfelt performance of “Dog Years,” dedicating the song to her old friends who were in the crowd. With lyrics such as, “Come what may, I’ll still stay, inside your mind, for all of time,” everyone felt the emotion behind Rogers’ dedicated performance. Later in the show, she scolded a young man in the front row for texting during her set, drawing laughter from the audience.
Photo Credit: Bella Peterson
The crowd ate up Rogers’ performance, and everyone was on their feet singing and swaying to the beat. Rogers was charming, powerful, and real. Each song left me simultaneously wanting to hear more and wanting the concert to slow down. Time passed quickly, and, as good things typically do, the concert ended too soon. After the encore, Maggie stood on the stage catching her breath, looking around the massive theater. The noise was deafening as everyone cheered and thanked the talented young musician. With a smile on her face, Rogers thanked the crowd in return. It was apparent that Maggie Rogers loves what she does and didn’t take a minute of it for granted.
It’s not often that you encounter a musician you admire as both an artist and as an individual. This is one of the reasons why Maggie Rogers is inspiring. She aptly uses her platform to advocate for things she believes in. She puts her heart and soul into her music, something that was clear from the moment she stepped on stage. Despite my worries about the concert not fulfilling my expectations, I can easily say that Maggie Rogers went above and beyond.