By: Victoria Moorwood//
Magic was in the air the night Maggie Rogers performed at The Irenic in North Park, San Diego. A happy, harmonious energy transcended fluidly from the opening act Overcoats into Maggie Rogers singing “Alaska,” while wiggling and jumping to the music video’s choreography.
Maggie poured her heart out on stage, interrupting her concert to express to her fans: “From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. This has been a crazy year. The weird thing about the internet is you never get to see who’s quietly changing your life, so thank you.” Her audience responded with equal affection. One fan interjected Maggie’s heartfelt speech with a shouted, “I love you!” To which she replied, “I love you too!” In between songs she tuned her guitar, and was delayed into starting her next song by an audience applause that lasted for almost a minute. Her fans were so enthusiastic and responsive, it was clear they shared her energy.
Maggie Rogers debuted her Now That the Light is Fading EP this February, making headway on charts when singles “Alaska” and “Dog Years” landed on the Triple J Hottest 100 list in 2016. She performed last month at the South by Southwest festival and on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show. She rose to fame when a video went viral portraying an almost teary-eyed Pharrell Williams applauding her performance of “Alaska” at an NYU masterclass last March. Rogers hadn’t written music for nearly three years when she spontaneously launched into writing “Alaska” one day after a hiking trip in just fifteen minutes. Four days later, Roger performed it as a senior at NYU to the masterclass, hosted by Pharrell Williams, to which he responded, “Wow. I have zero, zero, zero notes for that.” A few months later, Rogers admitted to Vogue, “I only had one song to submit” and said the response she received from Pharrell felt surreal. Just a year later she has a debut EP, is signed to a label, and is currently on an international tour.
Rogers grew up on a farm in rural Maryland and began playing the harp at age 7. By the time she was in middle school, Rogers had tacked on piano, guitar and songwriting to her skillset. While studying at St. Andrew’s School in Delaware, she fell in love with the banjo and folk music, which has continued to have a heavy influence on her music. She recorded her first album, The Echo, independently her senior year of high school in a makeshift recording studio she made out of a broom closet. She released another folk album Blood Ballet in 2014 while studying at NYU. Studying abroad in France introduced her to electronic music, shifting her focus toward a blend of emotional folk and liberating pop, which birthed “Alaska” in 2016. She cites her start in folk music as an asset toward her career in pop, for giving her the ability to be authentic and true to her own sound.
Her tour is continuing to New York, Europe, Australia, Japan, Canada and then returning to California. The most unique part of her performance was the crowd she drew. Young children, seniors, men and women, couples and friends—Maggie Rogers attracted an exceptionally diverse audience, drawn together by the common desire to sway and bob their heads to her whimsical yet hard-hitting vocals.
Maggie ended her show at The Irenic dancing to and singing “Alaska,” which had fans screaming their hearts out and dancing along with her. Perhaps her most appreciated song performed was “On + Off,” which left the audience cheering and applauding Rogers for several minutes after it was over. Another favorite was “Better” and a new song that she said she wrote while at camp. The standing ovation, cheering and crowd-love turned into fans chanting her name, demanding an encore. Maggie Rogers may have a sound that is all her own, but she is far from alone in this journey.