The duality of Maggie Rogers
Maria Leontaras | Wednesday, April 10, 2019
At (approximately) 2:30 p.m. Friday, I received the following message from a friend: “Tell me not to buy Maggie Rogers tickets for tomorrow in Indianapolis because I absolutely cannot go.” I replied, “Don’t do it (but if you find another ticket I’ll go too).”
At (approximately) 3 p.m. Saturday, we arrived outside of the Old National Centre ready to see the self-proclaimed witchy, feminist rockstar in her “Heard It In A Past Life World Tour.”
Some necessary context before we continue: The Old National Centre has two separate venues that allow multiple acts to perform at the same time on the same night. Rogers performed in the Egyptian Room while comedian Dane Cook performed in the Murat Theatre. The acts’ time slots differed slightly, giving Maggie and her team the opportunity to look in on Cook’s show. The Egyptian Room’s ceilings featured magnificent stained-glass chandeliers surrounded by faded hieroglyphic-esque art. The vast majority of the crowd sported cowboy boots or sneakers (with small variations).
Melanie Faye, the opening act, was a 20-year-old Instagram guitarist who endearingly asked for followers mid-performance. Her guitar riffs electrified the crowd, and her fondness for music set the evening in motion.
“I started playing guitar because of Guitar Hero,” Faye said toward the end of her act. “So let me have this moment.”
She proceeded to shred, and then made her way off stage — only after making sure she requested some followers for the rest of her band, too. In the time between Faye’s act and Rogers’ appearance, something became evident to me. Though Faye seemed cool and easygoing, her nerves seemed to take over on occasion, cutting through her stage persona and the mood until she’d become comfortable once again and carry on.
The duality that shone through Faye’s set reflected the duality of the events leading up to the concert, the venue, the footwear selection and what would later prove to be Rogers herself.
Rogers has taken pop music and made it her own through heartfelt lyrics and stellar live performances. I’ll be the first to admit I watch every video she posts on social media multiple times and am left in awe of how she gives every show her all. The concert did not disappoint.
Just when the wait between acts became excruciating, the lights dimmed and “Dancing Queen” by ABBA poured through the speakers. Rogers’ band filled the stage, the song faded and the singer strutted to her microphone ready to perform, glitter eyeshadow and all.
The opening number, “Give A Little,” not only slaps, but also provides a deeper look into Rogers herself and how she perceives the shared experience of a concert. As the evening went on, it became apparent that Rogers was indeed telling the crowd, “You don’t know me / And I don’t know you,” but we can work together to make the night something special. She took a moment to note that we were making the Egyptian Room a safe space, and if you weren’t for it? Get out.
“Sorry, I’m about to curse. It is freaking Saturday night!” The crowd lost it. I lost it. Rogers carried on, “We are here for you. We’ve got like 2/3 of our set left, so whatever you need to move through — let’s do it.”
Cue “Dog Years,” one of Rogers’ older tunes, and the beginning of “The Knife,” which she promptly stopped and started again since she forgot the lyrics. All of these instances built up a cute, kind person who loves to perform. But Rogers’ interactions with the crowd could be a little off-putting throughout the evening.
One moment she questioned those in the “premium seating” sections for sitting during a concert (“What is that?”), and though she clearly didn’t mean it to be offensive, she seemed to neglect those who physically cannot stand for however many hours in general admission. But she simply continued with her act, flipping back to the charming persona she adopts when performing.
Though seemingly self-righteous at times when scolding the crowd for being loud when she was speaking and calling for “moments of being quiet,” Rogers was justified in asking for these things. She may be a performer, but we as consumers are only allowed access to the pieces of her she decides to show. The duality of Rogers gave me whiplash, but it’s a discomfort that only adds to the mysterious aura of the star.
In the words of Maggie Rogers after performing an a capella version of “Color Song” as an encore in which she stopped to scold an audience member for whistling at her: “See you soon” — the duality of an artist and all.