photos: Maggie Rogers at Express Live
words/photos: Everly Jazi
details: Maggie Rogers at Express Live!, Columbus, Ohio on 9/28/2019
Maggie Rogers’ music career seemed to have taken off overnight. Still touring off her debut LP, Rogers reminded the Columbus audience at Express Live! that the last time she played in the city was for a crowd of 200. Now, she’s selling out a show with over 5,000 people, Rogers seemed to keep to the root of her start while enlivening it with spectacular performance and art.
Rogers took the stage next to the drum kit, her silhouette backlit as she sang the beloved camp song, “Color Song.” The open-air venue was dark, and Rogers’ full, wide-ranging voice set the tone for the night.
The lights brightened, and the softness was cut with a drum fill. After the first chorus of “Fallingwater” with piano chords backing up Rogers’ lyrics, the drummer banged out another fill and Rogers left the back of the stage. As she walked to the front, she dramatically took out her scrunchie, letting her hair down. She danced in her now-classic manner, interpreting every rhythm and melody through her entire body
The song appeared to end but the rhythm and keys kept going and Rogers came back for a slower, more careful reprise. The multipart tracks ended with Rogers’ long notes and went right into a disco dance song, “Burning.” A trippy vibrating chord sample paired with piano and groovy guitar riffs backed Rogers as she glided from one side of the stage to the other, spinning and dancing as she sang.
Before “The Knife,” the keyboardist played a classical solo, the red light shining only on her. After a minute or two, the bassline picked up and Rogers sang. The cymbals were constant, the piano a bit eerie, and the guitarist played out a number of funky power chords. The bridge slowed while Rogers harmonized over the instrumentation, continuing through the last chorus, almost scatting over the melodies. The track ended how it started, with just piano and Rogers, her coos lingering.
For “On + Off,” the beat machine let out a repeating synth beat, and the bass dropped, the entire venue vibrating. The drummer rolled on the cymbals, creating a cool effect against the gasp effect of the sample and keys. Rogers’ voice blended into the crowd’s as they sang along. The drummer incorporated a tambourine and the music paused for a second. A guitar riff called everyone back, the music continued, shifting through layers of noise.
Rogers came out with an acoustic guitar for the debut of track, “Love You for a Long Time.” The track, with country undertones and a funky chorus, held the attention of every audience member.
For a slower version of “Split Stones,” the bass and synth came back to shake things up. Rogers let the audience sing for a bit as she felt the music in her and danced beneath the strobes. The drums and bass guitar complemented the beat and keys well, and Rogers brought out her power vocals, especially on the bridge. She rocked back and forth, holding her notes dramatically. Everyone comes back in and Rogers yelled the lyrics, ultimately ending on a soft single note with blue lights.
The party goes on for a bit, and ended gracefully, with a solo rendition of “Alaska.”
“I’ve been playing this song for a long time,” Rogers told the crowd.
With just her acoustic guitar, and the house lights on, she finished with the song that started it all.