When Maggie Rogers appeared silhouetted by a single spotlight last night at the Armory, the crowd cheered and moved forward in anticipation as her clear-as-a-bell voice floated through the first lines of “Color Song.” The song bent and shifted before she segued into “Fallingwater” and its Phil-Collins-esque drum fill. While it was a risky move to play such a big song so early in her show, each tune in her set landed with a weight that kept the crowd rapt from beginning to end.
As if she had to introduce herself, Rogers said, “My name is Maggie Rogers,” before moving into “Burning.” And move she did. Onstage, Rogers is part Freddie Mercury, part Stevie Nicks, and 100% herself. It’s hard to take your eyes off the performer as she dances across every inch of the stage. Why is she so compelling to watch? While most people are reserved when cutting a rug — hyperaware of how they look as they shake out their moves — Rogers doesn’t seem to have any of these inhibitions. That kind of abandon can be scary to imagine, but it’s also so liberating if you can find it, and she certainly does.
Even if she’d stood stock still, though, her well-crafted songs would have sustained the show. Rogers’s voice is so strong and solid, holding up through as it leaps through octaves. It never falters as she sings about relationships and life.
Rogers knows that she has your attention, and while she does, she’s going to share her views with you. A song with an agenda can seem preachy, but the singer was able to effortlessly infuse empathy into “Give a Little,” a tune she wrote the same day as the National Gun Violence Walkout. She encouraged the audience to visit the Planned Parenthood and HeadCount booths as they left for the evening.
Rogers has a way of making everything epic, as if this is your last night on earth and this is exactly where you want to be. Combining a catchy melody and anthemic chords, like in “Split Stones” and “Overnight,” has become her signature sound, and it’s proven a successful equation. The highlight of the evening was when the set slowed down for “Past Life.” It’s an emotional song that showcases her lovely voice, and, more importantly, presents her as someone who is not just fierce but also vulnerable.
With no encore prepped, she closed the evening with “Light On.” The piece opened with her looping her vocals, creating a large chorus that needles into a deep recess of your brain. Eat your heart out, Ed Sheeran. When Maggie Rogers closes out the night, close your eyes, give yourself a wide berth, and let the music take over. The song encapsulates her as a person and her progression as an artist as she sings, “And I am finding out/ There’s just no other way/ That I’m still dancing at the end of the day.” We hope that you never stop dancing, Maggie.
Local openers Now, Now set the mood for a night of dancing. The band have definitely grown over the course of their 16-year career, commanding the large crowd with music that is world-wise and naive all at once.