Maggie Rogers brings “feral joy” to San Francisco in stunning last show of tour

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | March 10, 2023

Photography by Arhana Aatresh (’23)

Maggie Rogers showed San Francisco what surrendering to joy really is during her March 5 show.

Originally a folk singer-songwriter from Maryland transformed by exposure to electronic music in Europe, Rogers was already genre-defying artist with her debut album, Heard It in a Past Life. Her sonically edgier sophomore album Surrender, ranked in many lists as a top album of 2022 and promoted by her North America tour, is simply another chapter in the evolution of her sound.

Del Water Gap, the solo project of artist S. Holden Jaffe, former NYU bandmate and childhood friend, was the opener, primarily performing hits from his recent eponymous album, with Rogers crashing the stage an hour early to join him on the shimmering, electric-guitar-laden track “Better Than I Know Myself.” The large crossover between Rogers and Del Water Gap fans meant an enthusiastic set and the audience singing along, especially to fan-favorite “Ode to a Conversation Stuck in Your Throat.” 

Rogers opened with the album trailer for Surrender, about relinquishing control to feeling, before transitioning into its first track, “Overdrive,” with cinematic floodlighting and a rich wall of sound from her band. She immediately jumped into the high-energy song “Want Want,” featuring some of her most powerful vocals and grooviest dance moves of the night, as well as newfound liberation.

The energy settled during “Love You For a Long Time,” a breezy song celebrating all types of love and featuring Rogers on acoustic guitar for the first of many times during the night. She immediately transitioned into the most energetic song of the night, “Shatter,” as she playfully called out those in the balcony for sitting and encouraged them to dance.

Calming the crowd again, Rogers brought Jaffe to the stage for a performance of one of their NYU-era tracks, “New Song,” which opened as a duet between Rogers on banjo and Jaffe on acoustic guitar. A highlight of the night, the song crescendoed into rich harmonies between the two, with the entire audience singing along to the refrain, “I don’t mind it.”

Rogers then performed Heard It In a Past Life favorites “Alaska” and “Retrograde,” both featuring strong, forward-driving drum beats and bold, flashing lights, as well as Surrender power ballads “Horses” and “Anywhere With You.” Both songs, about finding a life of freedom from the weight of the world, were the climaxes of the night.

During the fan-favorite “Light On,” Rogers was overwhelmed by the audience’s love as they chanted the chorus, “If you leave the light on, I’ll leave the light on.” She closed with a mashup of the bold proclamation of love “That’s Where I Am” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

Rogers transformed her set into an extraordinary performance and catalyzed the audience into a unified force, reflecting her recent Harvard Divinity School Master of Religion and Public Life degree and specialization in the spirituality of public crowds. Her wild movement and vulnerability with the audience about her difficulty singing narrative songs in a post-pandemic world were just a couple of many signs of her newfound joy and freedom.

Her show was a testament to the beauty of surrendering to feeling. Even moments where she slightly faltered, such as having to restart “I’ve Got a Friend” after stopping for a few minutes, simply showed how easy, but also wonderful, it is to relinquish control to emotion. As Rogers said before restarting, “Sometimes, you have to feel anger to get to joy.” These emotions are a part of life, but they don’t prevent one from celebrating joy.

However, Rogers made it clear that surrendering to emotion does not mean accepting the state of the world. But, as she crooned in the last song of her encore, “When we’re riding all together, it’s a different kind of world.”

Categories: Entertainment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s