Maggie Rogers and Melanie Faye at the Commodore Ballroom, 4/17/19
In between the two weekends she’s slated to perform at the Coachella Music Festival, folksy and soulful pop singer Maggie Rogers found time to play a sold out show at the Commodore.
Quickly rising to popularity after a viral video where Pharrell has an emotional reaction to the demo that became “Alaska,” Rogers’ merch proclaimed “witchy feminist rockstar” and that’s exactly the vibe she gave off.
The 20-year-old opener Melanie Faye strode onto the stage with an extended instrumental neo-soul jam session. Faye was certainly a capable singer, but the real focus was on her complex guitar solos – she even turned the Guitar Hero 3 classic “Cliffs of Dover” into an R&B slow jam.
Rogers played the entirety of her debut project Heard It in A Past Life over the course of the night, and appropriately kicked things off with its opening track. As the first notes of “Give A Little” played, Rogers walked out in an all-white sparkly disco outfit and took her hair down.
Rogers’ music represents the juncture of folksy singer-songwriter lyrics, upbeat synthpop instrumentals and the vocal delivery of a 90s soul diva, and the sharp melodies and quick syllables throughout demonstrated her strong sense of rhythm.
Not to mention that for most of the show Rogers is dancing. Hard. Dropping next into the uplifting “Burning,” her smile lit up the whole room as she spread positivity through her moves.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring things about Rogers is just how normal she seems, a former NYU music student who made it huge. There was nothing overly extravagant about the show, just an everyday girl having the time of her life.
“Hi!” she finally yelled to the audience after the opening sequence, bouncing up and down happily and repeating “Hi” as they cheered. “I don’t really know what to say!”
Rogers can seriously surprise with just how soulful her vocals are. Running through 90s-influenced tracks like “Say It” and “Dog Years,” the vibrato on her high notes sounded almost gospel.
“It’s a very strange job that all of us have decided to do,” Rogers said, gesturing at her band. “I’ve decided I’m going to take my most painful and tense personal moments and tell them to people every night.”
“Sometimes you call a therapist, sometimes you call your mom, I just need to work through these things by dancing,” she said before “Retrograde.”
After she finally slowed things down for a second on “Light On” and “Past Life,” Melanie Faye returned to the stage for “Alaska” wearing a pink cowboy hat.
“Can I have 30 seconds?” Rogers asked, running off stage and returning with her own maple leaf cowboy hat to the delight of the audience.
Rogers’ song “Back in My Body” is partially about the pressures of performing the song that turned her into a star, so it was nice to hear her mix “Alaska” up with some new vocal runs and Faye’s guitar.
As she transitioned to “Back in My Body,” Rogers audibly giggled while singing as the phone lights gradually went up, smiling and pointing at each one. “This looks amazing!”
Closing the main set with “Fallingwater,” there was an incredible moment when the audience sang the choral section at the end while Rogers did some vocal acrobatics overtop.
She coughed as her voice broke on the final, piercing high note, doing it two extra times just to prove she could before the bow.
Rogers’ debut project is one of the most artistically self-assured in a long time, and she had the audience drawn to her every move on Wednesday night.