MAGGIE ROGERS MAKES L.A. DEBUT TO A SOLD OUT TROUBADOR CROWD
MAGGIE ROGERS LIVE AT TROUBADOUR
Recent New York University graduate Maggie Rogers made her Los Angeles debut to a sold out crowd at the Troubadour. The ethereal singer/songwriter and self-produced artist drew in a crowd of everyone from pre-teens to middle aged couples. For her first LA show, the crowd was enormous and overtly enthusiastic. Rogers released her EP Now That The Light is Fading in early 2017 and has already seen over 30 million streams of her song “Alaska.”
After going viral in a video alongside Pharrell Williams at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU in 2016, Maggie Rogers burst into the music scene. While it was clear some attended the Troubadour show because of this video, the majority of the audience seemed connected to her on a deeper level.
She opened with the haunting tune “Color Song,” which also starts off her EP. The audience of several hundred fell silent until the next song in the set began with Rogers’ signature dancing moves. I stood on the upper balcony for the first two songs, but promptly joined the majority of the crowd on the dance floor as the set picked up.
Unlike most crowds, Rogers’ was welcoming and relaxed. It seemed as though the audience full of strangers were somehow friends. I was able to navigate my way to leaning on the stage due to a sense of freedom and inclusion the crowd emanated. I was photographing the show as well, and each time I asked a fellow audience member if I could sneak by them, they responded with only kind remarks. General admission shows typically fill up with those only focused on their own experience—Maggie Rogers’ show could not be further from that.
She may come off as a sweet and slightly awkward girl prancing onstage in a white denim suit covered in rainbow tassels and patches, but she is a much stronger force. Her sound is quite atypical. Rogers began her musical career as a banjo player who specialized in folk music. After studying abroad in France, she fell in love with dance music, and her sound today is very reflective of that. Los Angeles and the music industry as a whole is full of beautiful girls with a great voice, but something about Maggie Rogers is different.
Her audience connects with her in a way I have not seen in artists other than Florence and the Machine. Both of these women represent a sense of strength and individuality, and their ability to ground a crowd of any size is brilliant.
During her hour long set, Rogers spoke of how surreal it was to play such a historic venue. The Troubadour is known as a birthplace of some the greatest artists and sounds. It is an older building that shakes with a heavy base and has an upstairs bar that is reminiscent of a tiki hut. The setup is intimate. All one has to do to be backstage is walk upstairs. The curtain covered windows of the upstairs lounge keep the artist close to the audience from the moment the venue doors open. The Troubadour is a perfect example of “if these walls could talk.” Generations of music fans have poured into the 500 capacity venue to discover the artists that would later revolutionize their time.
While watching Maggie Rogers perform, I could not help but see bits of Troubadour legends like Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon present within her. One thing that is undeniable about Rogers is that she is truly authentic, similar to the aforementioned artists. Watching her onstage feels as though you could be a fly on the wall in her bedroom. Nothing is forced, nothing is an act created by a record label.
This was obvious in her performance of the radiant tune “On + Off.” Rogers bounced around the stage, engaging with each audience member. I really connect with this song as it seems to portray what it feels like to have an anxiety attack. It sounds like a racing heartbeat, then calms to the lyrics “It’s okay, it’s okay, I’m okay, I’m alright again.” It says what it truly feels like to try to calm down your own brain. It was clear that a lot of her fans connected with this song, maybe not exactly how I did, but still reacted in a way that almost set them free. Rogers jumped up on speakers and danced the whole way through, seemingly freeing herself as well.
Rogers closed with her signature song “Alaska.” Every audience member shouted the lyrics back at her, bringing her a great deal of emotion. It is always so wonderful to watch an artist’s reaction to people understanding their work, and this audience certainly did. “Alaska” is often how fans are introduced to Maggie, so when the song began, it felt like everyone was in on the secret. One of my personal favorite lyrics by Rogers is from this song, “Cut my hair so I could rock back and forth, without thinking of you, learned to talk and say whatever I wanted to.” It is reminiscent of shaking off a bad memory that everyone in the audience could relate to, regardless of age or experience.
This is what makes Maggie Rogers special. She has a tremendous ability to connect to people both as an artist and as a person. From the looks of this sold out show, I see Maggie Rogers going places—and soon.