Maggie Rogers last graced the Armory stage in 2019. I walked into that show as a casual fan with my best friend. I’d have to say it took about 20 seconds of watching the show before I became a huge fan. When I saw that she’d be returning I knew I had to go back and see her. The release of her newest album Surrender brings about a viciously joyful energy in her career. I had really high expectations of how she’d transform them into a live show.
I won’t make you skip to the end to know if she met the expectations. She exceeded them – hard. Before we get into that, we need to talk about the opener Del Water Gap.
S. Holden Jaffe’s project, Del Water Gap, opened the night up with a hot 45-minute set. He’s a friend and collaborator of Maggie, but he spent the entire set showing us that he is a talent in his own right onstage with his 3-piece band. He strutted and jumped around the stage like the biggest of rockstars and the audience was eating it up.
Midway through the set he did a cover by his “second favorite pop star” Avril Lavigne (Maggie, of course, is his favorite). His cover of “Complicated” really got anyone who was half-in to get on board with the set. The indie-pop set rolled on under colorful LED lights switching psychedelically between the Del Water Gap logo and name. He had the entire crowd jumping by the end of the set.
Maggie Rogers took the stage to a mountain of anticipation. The crowd was absolutely rabid for her. It’s no wonder that the tour is called the “Feral Joy Tour.” There was a video intro that raised the excitement. Then, she appeared on a platform centered in a semicircle of her band and white and yellow daisies. “Overdrive,” “Want Want,” and “Say It” were first out of the gate. The tone was set. This would clearly be a night to let go and just let it all out.
Rogers dedicated “Love You For A Long Time” to all the single people in the crowd. She did her best to do a little matchmaking by having everyone who is single raise their hands. “I hope you all find crushes tonight!” A few false starts didn’t hold her back from performing the song in all its glory. The joy from the stage intoxicated the room.
One thing that I respect so much about Rogers is her ability to show her vocal range. She never sings to sound exactly like her album. She tops it from song to song. So much of that is the heart that she puts into her performance. It’s truly great to witness.
“Shatter” was next in the setlist. It started beneath what looked like bursting stars behind her. She ran back and forth, stopping only to dance in place for seconds at a time before darting elsewhere. The song on its own is high-energy. I have NO idea how she pulls off performing it and still sounding incredible. If she keeps this up she’ll be known as one of the hardest-working musicians any minute now.
Her vocals soared amongst the lights of everyone in the audience as she belted “Begging For Rain.” “Symphony” was another moment that stuck out to me as she took the time to dance in place under gorgeous purple light. It made the room feel like it held 500 people instead of the 8,000 that were there. Rogers brought out Del Water Gap for “New Song” together. The song that made her – “Alaska” – was next, and it was a fresh take with extra percussion and a faster beat.
“Retrograde” had her happily dancing around the stage and playing with the cameras that were projecting on the massive screen behind her. It made the show feel like it was for each of us again; like she was looking at each person. It was really special. She sprinkled in “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and did it like a true superstar. It felt like the end of the show, but it was far from it. She still had more songs to go through including “Horses,” “Anywhere With You,” and “Light On.”
Her set ended with Surrender single “That’s Where I Am.” She ended on her platform, just like where she started. She introduced her band and let them finish jamming together at the end of the song. Of course, she wouldn’t stay off stage for long. After a few minutes of roaring applause, she reappeared with her band for a two-song encore of “fallingwater” and “Different Kind of World”
It’s so much fun to see Maggie Rogers grow as an artist. Any scrap of meekness before has been replaced with pure, glistening confidence on stage. The performance felt like a super cut from a tour documentary of her at her prime playing out behind her on the screen. It was like the best moments were stitched together. Except that it was just happening live in front of our eyes. Every moment belonged there as a highlight.
Even then, I know that she has no limit to her songwriting and energy. I can’t wait to see what she does next.