It wouldn’t be strictly accurate to say that Maggie Rogers’ show at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday night (February 15th) served as a homecoming show, but it wouldn’t be a totally wrong statement, either. The evening — which was part of her “Feral Joy Tour” (grab tickets here) — felt at least like a spiritual return for Rogers to the city that turned her into a pop sensation nearly overnight. Rogers was raised as a folk-music lover in Easton, Maryland, content to play her banjo; now, she’s performed a sold-out show at the site of her NYU graduation ceremony in 2016.
“I graduated here, on this stage,” a breathless Rogers said in the middle of an energetic set. Rogers is an enchanting and charismatic performer, a firecracker, and she feeds off the dynamism of her audience as much as they do with her. “I keep looking out into the crowd, and just know that I can see each and every one of you. I keep thinking that I recognize the faces of people I went to college with!”
Rogers’ sophomore record, Surrender, is filled with meditations on embracing her emotions, instead of running away from them. There is an alternative pop sheen across the record, and a folk tenderness that goes hand in hand with the intimacy of the subject matter. Material from Surrender dominated the night, with “Overdrive” and “Want Want” kicking off the set in sprightly fashion. By the time “Honey” arrived, Rogers and the crowd were one; she is a joy to watch as a performer, her music taking on a life of their own when played live. Her songs have a special kind of ferocity and grandeur that is best felt amidst a crowd.
She dedicated the emotive “Love You for a Long Time” to New York City, the crowd jubilantly joining in on the singalong. The audience were locked in to Rogers for every song, but even when the synergy was even the tiniest bit off, Rogers had no trouble pointing it out.
“Oh come on, you guys can do better than that!” Rogers roared playfully at the masses after requesting her band restart “Be Cool,” deeming the initial energy lackluster. “That’s more like it!” she yelled once the crowds were back to matching her, beat for beat. Rogers also insisted on re-starting the third verse to “I’ve Got a Friend” after stumbling on a fresh version of the lyrics — “We’ve got to do that song again! We can’t mess up that Robert Pattinson line!” — and the crowd dutifully obeyed with a raucous, clear delivery of: “Oh, I’ve got a friend who’s been there through it all/ Masturbates to Rob Pattinson staring at the wall!”
“Alaska,” the song that earned Rogers industry attention and truly catapulted her career was an obvious highlight of the set, but the true gem of the night came directly afterward when the one and only David Byrne appeared on stage to join her for “Strange Overtones.”
“For one night only… it’s David Byrne!” Rogers exclaimed to a fervent crowd as the duo launched into an animated performance of his 2008 track, complete with a full dance routine for both parties.
David Bryne joined Maggie Rogers to perform “Strange Overtones” at Radio City Music Hall. #maggierogers #davidbyrne