‘There’s No Joy Without Anger:’ Maggie Rogers’ Feral Joy Tour at Roadrunner Put Us in ‘Overdrive’
28-year-old singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers embodies what it means to put every part of yourself into music. At one point during her Feb. 10 set at Roadrunner in Allston-Brighton, she doubled over between songs, overcome with emotion.
Out of breath from playing her head-banging anthem “Shatter” she apologized to the audience and said she needed 30 more seconds to recover before her band launched into the next song.
“I’m just still so fucking mad from playing that song,” she confided with a chuckle. “But this is kind of part of Feral Joy. There’s no joy without anger.”
This sincerity combined with Rogers’ neverending energy propelled her through her 18-song set. Rogers’ college bandmate, S. Holden Jaffe aka Del Water Gap opened the show, declaring that no one is a bigger Maggie Rogers fan than him. He jumped, kneeled and spun as he belted out “Perfume,” “High Tops” and “Ode to a Conversation Stuck in Your Throat.” All songs this author believes to be about his and Rogers’ on and off again relationship.
As stagehands tuned music and arranged bouquets of flowers in anticipation of Rogers’ arrival, the crowd thrummed, chanting her name. Suddenly, the screen behind the stage flashed, indicating a multicolor countdown and Rogers appeared in silhouette, rocking a glittery, navy dress and high-heeled black boots because as she told the audience, “Everything is better with glitter.”
She launched into “Overdrive” an energetic number from her latest album Surrender followed by “Want Want,” which was co-written by Del Water Gap. Standing at the apex of the stage, Rogers belted out the lyrics she said are about that relationship with someone who is your “eternal, forever what-if.” “You’re better than the man I knew / When we were in a band and you / Wouldn’t flinch and make a move.” A reference to her co-author? I would bet money on it.
Next came Rogers’ heartwarming, acoustic ode to her best friend, “I Got A Friend.” After was “Say It,” the first performance from Rogers’ older album Heard It In A Past Life. “Honey” from Surrender led into her light, playful ballad “Love You For A Long Time.”
Then came “Shatter,” and Rogers let go completely. Dancing across the stage in her sparkly boots, she sang the chorus with such fervor, showcasing her angelic yet powerful belt while letting in the slightest amount of vocal fry.
“And it feels like that / Sweeter than the best you've ever had / And oh, it takes me back / To being sixteen, dancing like you're under attack.”
After belting out the song’s final note, Rogers swayed back and forth, momentarily spent.
“The best part about making music is that you have a space just to let go,” she spoke into the microphone breathlessly.
Eventually, Rogers invited Del Water Gap back onstage, to play a song they wrote in their freshman year of college. With Rogers on the banjo, Del on the acoustic guitar and their voices melding seamlessly, a sort of peace settled, as everyone watched two completely in-synch artists share an intimate moment.
A six-minute track, “New Song” showcased the duo’s songwriting skills and distinct voices. The song is written like a conversation, with Del on the first verse.
“And darling / Is there a cure for this hunger? / A terrible curse to be under/ I'll be sleeping with that / And it's no small thing / You'll smoke me out in your own ways / And chase me around until mornin' / And follow me back.”
Rogers responds, her voice cracking beautifully.
“And lovely / You're tearing me down with your cheek bones / They're warm but they hit me like sharp stones / When you pull away / Now I walk slow / I wander the streets in the morning / I still smell your scent like a warnin.”
The performance brought some to tears, the two musicians also appeared a little misty-eyed. Lightening the mood, Rogers and her band launched into the rhythmic, poetic, “Alaska,” encouraging the crowd to sing along with her. “Begging For Rain” and “Horses” elicited a heavy calm, a sort of introspection that reached the corners of the Roadrunner. After the spirited track “Anywhere With You,” Rogers finished the night with fan-favorite “Light On” before belting out “That’s Where I Am.”
After chanting for an encore, she and her band returned for “Fallingwater” from Heard It In A Past Life. Closing the night, Rogers dedicated her set to Syria and Turkey, two countries still recovering from a devastating earthquake. “Different Kind of World,” a song rooted in hope followed her monologue.
“Things have been really fucked up lately,” she said. “But this gives me hope.”
The Feral Joy tour will end its run on March 5 in San Francisco.
Graphic by Isa Luzarraga.
Originally published in Milk Crate.