What Makes Maggie Rogers A One-In-A-Generation Live Performer

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Tickets for Maggie Rogers' Australian tour are on sale now.

Back in 2016, the world got lucky when it met Maggie Rogers.

By now, fans know the singer-songwriter’s breakthrough moment inside out. In a masterclass hosted by Pharrell Williams at New York University, Rogers shyly played an original song called ‘Alaska’ for the man universal considered a titan of the industry. Pharrell’s stunned reaction, captured in what would be a genuinely viral video, spoke volumes. With ‘Alaska’ as her first hit, Rogers has been stunning audiences ever since.

2019 is set to be the year of Maggie Rogers. In January, the 24-year-old will release her major label debut album, Heard It In A Past Life, alongside an extensive world tour. After circling the US and Europe, the roadshow hits Australia in May. We last saw Rogers wowing the GW McLennan Tent at 2017’s Splendour In The Grass, and this time she’s taking on theatres as a headliner.


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While already a magnetic presence at Splendour, Rogers has continued to evolve as a live performer. She’s certainly notched up the stage time, with sets at numerous major festivals and a run of shows warming up for Haim – who, like Lorde, are true believers in Maggie Rogers. All that momentum led to her debut as a Saturday Night Live musical guest, which surely felt a long way from that NYU classroom.

With Heard It In A Past Life poised to take her to even bigger stages, it’s a good time to recap the Maggie Rogers story so far.

From Banjo Player To The Big Time

“For a long time, I’ve introduced myself as a banjo player from the Eastern Shore of Maryland,” Rogers writes on her website. After tracking the changes in her life, she settles on a new line: “I’m a songwriter, producer and performer from Brooklyn.”


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The “performer” part of her personality has flourished since that fateful meeting with Pharrell. Late in 2016, with ‘Alaska’ still winning over new fans, Rogers giddily announced her debut tour. In videos from those intimate shows, Rogers seems overwhelmed at hearing the crowd join in on the lyrics.

Midway through that star-making run, Rogers and her tight-knit band made their TV debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Performing ‘Alaska’ with a glowing intro from Fallon (“Remember this name,” he advised), the newcomer looked completely at home under the lights. Keeping perfect pitch while dancing freely across the set, she earned a standing ovation from the studio audience.

Lollapalooza, SNL, And All The Rest

After the Fallon boost, Rogers kept on climbing. In the summer of 2017, she played the main stage at Chicago’s Lollapalooza ahead of Tove Lo and The Shins. Armed with newer songs like ‘Dog Years’ and ‘On + Off’, her voice pulled in a solid early afternoon crowd. Working the expansive stage in eye-popping red and silver, Rogers delivered one of the weekend’s most talked-about sets.

That summer, Rogers also made the trek to her first-ever Glastonbury and recorded a delightful, open-hearted performance for NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series.

Rogers has since become a favourite support act of indie superstars, joining Haim at iconic venues like Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre and London’s Alexandra Palace. Mumford & Sons also invited her to open their current run of arena shows, including Madison Square Garden in New York.

Last month, Rogers brought a couple of new songs from Heard It In A Past Life to the storied SNL stage. With her band and backup singers arranged in black behind her, she aced a luminous version of ‘Light On’, then returned in red for standout single ‘Fallingwater’. The second performance showed off the full range of her voice and, of course, the expressive, loose-limbed dancing that fans love. (All achieved in bare feet, too.)

The Year Of Maggie

After Heard It In A Past Life drops in January, its creator will be shimmying across a lot of stages. Most of Rogers’ headline shows abroad feature a support act very familiar to Australian audiences: Brisbane’s own Mallrat, who released her In The Sky EP this year. The two artists are close touring partners and their distinct styles make for a fascinating double bill, and plans to add an exciting up-and-coming support act for the 2019 tour will only take it from strength to strength.

So, what to expect at the Australian shows this May – aside from a voice that’s equal to the studio versions and dance moves you’ll struggle to replicate? Without giving too much away, Rogers’ recent set lists include all the fan favourites, plus a strong contingent of new songs. (She’s also partial to covering country folk hero, John Prine.)

Then, when it’s over, you can say you saw Maggie Rogers in the year she truly blew up.

(Lead image: Olivia Bee)

Correction: An earlier version of this article used the wrong title for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It has now been updated.

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