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Maggie Rogers electrifies at The Anthem, D.C.

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On Oct. 8, Maggie Rogers dazzled audiences on night two of her stop in D.C., as part of her “Heard It in a Past Life World Tour.” The stint was a sold-out affair, fittingly at The Anthem, where she played a set full of soul-wrenching, chill-inducing anthems.

Opening act Empress Of took the stage first, grooving to electronic oddities with a keyboard. Alongside a drummer, she performed in front of a curtain and donned flowy white dresses, made by Empress Of’s mother. Highlights included “Woman Is a Word,” “I Don’t Even Smoke Weed,” and “When I’m With Him,” all pulsating with alternative melodies and thumping electronic production.

Rogers took the stage by storm, her silhouette lighting up the front curtain as the opening to “Color Song” played. Rogers transported the audience back to her summer-camp days, with cricket sounds and silhouette choreography establishing a world of her own. World-building often goes overlooked in pop music concerts, but Rogers accomplished this with a swift swoop of self, considering she would sing the song at summer camp in Maine.  

Then, with the drop of the curtain and the Phil Collins-esque drum kick sequence, Rogers’ 2018 single, “Fallingwater,” ushered the true start of the show. To non-Maggie fans, listen to this one first; it distills the best of her artistry from the anthemic lyrics to the final bridge-chorus shift to a soul-infused folk soundscape. 

A relentless, show-stopping run of singles and fan favorites followed suit. The giddy single “Burning,” featured on Barack Obama’s summer playlist (who, along with Michelle, are “big fans” and expressed regret for missing the D.C. outing), had concert-goers jumping and singing along. “Say It” set an intense, inescapable rhythm that affirmatively answered the question: “Is ‘Say It’ the best song released in 2019?”

Generally speaking, when an artist can improve upon already-great songs in a live setting, the concert is a success. Here, Rogers more than proved herself as a formidable performer, adding a funky bassline to “The Knife” and creating harmonies on a loop machine before “Light On,” to name just a few of the production kicks that took her performance to the next level. A new, Kacey Musgraves-like slow jam that revolves around the lyrics “I’m gonna love you for a long time” made clear that the Maggie Rogers live show is not one to miss. 

Maybe it was something about being back on “home turf” (Rogers is from the Eastern Shore of Maryland), but Rogers’ comfortability onstage allowed fans to forget the fact that her debut album was only released this year. In moments of ferocity (“On + Off,” “Retrograde”) and even reflective quiet (“Dog Years,” “Past Life”), Rogers commanded the stage with a witchy feminist-rocker aesthetic that recalls the likes of Florence Welch or Stevie Nicks. 

Before ending the main set with a rousing album closer “Back in My Body,” Rogers spoke about her love for concerts. Going to live shows allowed Rogers to “look for a release or for something bigger than [herself].” Rogers looked gleeful as she realized she created her own space to allow fans to look outside themselves. 

Part of realizing the world is bigger than the self came from partnering with charities and organizations like Planned Parenthood for the tour. “Right now, there’s a case going to the Supreme Court that could threaten abortion rights,” she informed the crowd, referring to this Louisiana case. The Planned Parenthood table within the venue allowed Rogers’ fans to sign a petition and receive a free shirt. 

Rogers closed with an acoustic rendition of her breakthrough hit, “Alaska,” similar to the one showcased at her NPR Tiny Desk set. Played in the way she wrote it in her bedroom, the performance was an intimate and fitting conclusion to a high-energy night. 

Rogers concludes the tour on Oct. 20, in Austin, Texas. 

Feature Image: Courtesy of Marley Scheld ’20.

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Maggie Rogers electrifies at The Anthem, D.C.