“It’s good to be home,” alternative indie singer Maggie Rogers told the crowd with affection as she took the stage at The Anthem, performing in the District for the first time since her “Heard It In A Past Life Tour” in 2019.
Rogers – an Eastern Shore, Maryland native – headlined two consecutive, sold-out nights Monday and Tuesday on the second stop of her aptly titled “Feral Joy Tour.” Rogers was supported by opener Del Water Gap, her college bandmate and longtime friend. With stunning vocals and an impeccable stage presence, Rogers took the energetic crowd on a raw, emotional journey complete with cathartic screaming, eclectic dancing and even some tears as she performed hits from her sophomore album “Surrender.”
Rogers said the hometown show was “special for her,” telling the crowd that her mom, middle school math teacher, first-ever friend and childhood neighbors were all supporting her in the audience. Rogers said in an Instagram video that the first show she ever played was at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland, so her performance this week represented a homecoming to the DMV area.
Rogers may have been surrounded by pristine white daisies onstage, but her performance was anything but delicate. Rogers created a powerful buildup to her dynamic performance with a pre-recorded audio of a poem she wrote prior to the album’s release set alongside stunning visuals, prompting an explosive reaction from the audience, who recognized the poem from the official “Surrender” trailer.
“When I’m angry or in love, I feel it in my teeth / Strange harmonic buzzing / Cuts through my hands / My jaw / My breast bone / For a long time I fought it / Resisted / Held up my fists,” Rogers’ voice echoed in an interlude. “This is the story of what happened when I finally gave in.”
Rogers strutted onstage in a glistening, black leather jacket she quickly shed to reveal a pale blue slip dress with feather detailing. She began her set with “Overdrive,” the first track on “Surrender,” guiding the audience into a thrilling performance.
But the intoxicating first notes of “Want Want,” the second single from the album, invigorated the crowd and truly set the tone for the rest of the performance. As Rogers sang the electrifying chorus – “Might die if you can’t live just to taste it” – the audience became so exhilarated that the room felt overcome with a captivating essence.
The band – two guitarists, a keyboardist, a drummer and a percussionist – matched Rogers’ energy precisely, singing along to each song behind their instruments and interacting with one another on stage. Rogers took several dance breaks to rock out with her two guitarists in spirited fits of movement.
Rogers, who became one of the first 11 people to receive a Master of Religion and Public Life degree from the Harvard Divinity School last year, said her education has led her to view “performance as a practice of presence” to make art feel sacred, which was evident throughout her set. She moved across the stage effortlessly, clearly feeling every word of each song throughout her entire body.
Rogers played her hit single “Love You For A Long Time” in honor of Galentine’s Day – the day before Valentine’s Day – and dedicated the heartwarming track “I’ve Got a Friend” to “everyone that came here tonight with their best friend.” As she sang both songs, the audience clutched onto their concert buddies in a touching display of friendship and love, a consistent theme in Rogers’ music.
During her set, Rogers confided in the audience that she used to feel “insecure” about playing guitar when she first took up music as a young girl. She expressed gratitude to her fans for their loyal support, allowing her to reach the self-confidence she experienced while playing “Begging for Rain” on her acoustic guitar.
Del Water Gap joined Rogers about halfway through the set to perform “New Song,” the final track the pair wrote together nearly 20 years ago. Their chemistry was impeccable – each glance they shared made the audience squeal with excitement. The two talented vocalists harmonized beautifully to create an emotionally charged sound matching the song’s lyrics.
Deviating from her slower ballads, Rogers performed upbeat, romantic anthems “Shatter” and “Anywhere With You,” prompting a high-voltage feeling among the crowd with her passionate singing and dancing. Rogers put new twists on many old songs, adding rock elements to typically electronically produced songs like “Fallingwater” and “Alaska.” The masterful performer complimented each song with improvised belting and riffs that showcased her vocal prowess.
Before performing her uplifting track “Light On,” Rogers pointed out two tables set up towards the back of the venue where audience members could register to vote and support Planned Parenthood’s “Bans Off Our Bodies” campaign. She also expressed her support for the movement to protect the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Maryland, saying she hopes the bay will remain as blue as her dress.
Rogers closed the show with “Different Kind of World,” a touching ballad about hope and looking toward the future in the midst of fear. Lingering on the final lines of the song, she sang “When we’re riding all together it’s a different kind of world / I’m a different kind of girl.” Rogers’ harrowingly beautiful voice provided a poignant finish to a vibrant performance that served as a testament to Rogers’ ascension as an untouchable force in the music industry.
Rogers appeared elated looking out at the crowd at the end of the show. She made her homecoming, and the District welcomed her with open arms.
This article appeared in the February 16, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.