Some artists shine the brightest on their records and others on stage. On March 22 at MTelus, Maggie Rogers did both, breathing new life into her performance of the songs from her major label debut, Heard It In a Past Life, further electrifying the already impressive recorded tracks. In this triumphant concert, the Maryland artist had thousands sweating and dancing until they were sore.
The show opened with a set by emerging Tennessee-based artist Melanie Faye. Despite having only officially released one song, Faye has already played with the likes of Mac Demarco and Noname. Faye captured the attention of the giddy crowd for the entirety of her set. She began on stage alone, playing her guitar as if there weren’t thousands of eyes on her, highlighting her talent as an instrumentalist. She moved seamlessly from strumming playfully to shredding intensely, delivering each note with a look of determination and passion.
When Rogers finally appeared, she did so while her band played the shimmering opening notes to “Give A Little.” Dressed in a zebra print jumpsuit because, in her words, “it’s Friday,” Rogers jumped around the stage outshining even the bold vocals showcased on the studio version. Rogers’ second song “Burning” proved aptly descriptive of both the temperature and the energy in the venue. Following the theme of moving past pain and darkness, Rogers introduced “Retrograde,” by announcing that the song is “about being in your deep dark shit,” and that, thankfully, “Retrograde is almost over.”
At times, Rogers’ album sounds a tad over-polished, but performed live, ruggedness and energy broke through its sheen and invigorated the songs. Rogers approached “On + Off” with a new drama and animation. “Back In My Body” felt complete with the roars of the crowd in the background and a stream of hundreds of bright white lights bursting out behind Rogers. She then introduced the single “Light On” as a song about finding the space on stage to escape and embrace her overwhelming life.
Constant dancing and a sense of freedom characterized the night. The undeniable groove of “The Knife” turned fans into a dizzy mess of flailing limbs while the jangly bliss of “Dog Years” caused everyone to sway in unison. Each coo in “Alaska” seemed to erase any stress carried by audience members and allow them to feel liberated. “Say It,” which Rogers sang while bathed in a lilac light, cast a spell over the crowd. The spellbinding quality of the song and the tranquil atmosphere were enough to make any viewer fall for Rogers’ charm. During “Overnight,” fans proved their adoration-bordering-on-obsession by wearing masks of Rogers’ face, causing the singer to laugh throughout the second verse. The set’s only misstep was a faceless and uninventive cover of Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw,” though it was easily overshadowed by the show’s innumerable highlights.
In contrast to the uncontrollable dancing during most songs, Rogers commanded the room with ease during “Past Life” and her a cappella version of “Color Song.” The latter was performed as an encore, which fans demanded by jumping and chanting in unison. Rogers’ ability to entrance each concert goer and push them to experience liberation and catharsis to the sound of her voice shows that she was born to be onstage.