Maggie Rogers is a banjo-loving breed of an ethereal beat baby and a 70’s folksy fringe Woodstock attendee. She graced the stage, or should I say pulpit, of the Irenic in North Park this past Monday. Set in a reconstructed church, the narrow room with a high ceiling and stained glass windows created quite the reverent atmosphere for the evening.
She walked out in a kick-ass white denim ensemble, with colorful Matisse-esque cut outs on the panels, looking slightly nervous but with a mischievous glint in her eyes. As the night unfolded, Rogers was right to look that way as she pulled tricks out of her sleeve with unsuspecting songs paired with her powerful voice. The light pitch filled the room and touched each audience member; as I looked around me everyone was simply enchanted by the ball of energy and passion before them. Rogers’s energy is infectious as well. As she danced over to the corner of the stage where I was standing, I couldn’t help but burst out smiling or wildly sway my arms just like she did. I’ll just pretend that she saw my childish laughter and movement and we shared a precious moment.
Rogers discussed the influence of her summer camp of 12 years at the show, and it was interesting to learn of her inspiration for her ballads and writing. Her introductory track “Color Song” begins with the sounds of crickets, reminiscent of nights spent under the stars and immense sky, only separated from the elements by a thin plastic tent.
Between songs, Rogers chatted with the audience as she tuned her guitar, and she nervously stumbled over her words as she tried to multi-task. This show was her first of her debut headlining tour, and it was apparent that she was still in awe of her popularity. To me, however, Rogers simply had a likeable quality about her, due to her genuine personality. The show was different to other ones I have been to in the past, because I wasn’t struck by this celebrity figure; it was like I was watching a friend in a talent show (a really talented one at that). I was proud of her journey and her success, and shared a second-hand nervous excitement with Rogers as well.
Maggie Rogers’ claim to her budding fame stemmed from a streamed NYU songwriting masterclass with producer, musician, and Renaissance man, Pharrell Williams. She played him her song “Alaska” and throughout the listening Williams’s face was one of pure amazement, like a cliche kid in a candy shop. Afterwards, he said he had no notes for her unique song and sound.
From there Rogers received a record deal and several songs from her EP “Now That the Light is Fading” have music videos with over two-million views. The music videos remind me of performance art, emanating a feeling rather than a message or a clear storyline.
That same feeling was shared during her performance, as Rogers touched each member of the audience with light and positivity that radiated from person to person.