Midway through her show, Maggie Rogers told a story about visiting Piha and having a quasi-spiritual experience atop Lion Rock, feeling like she’d come so far from her bedroom in Nowhere, Maryland, where she’d started writing songs as a 13 year old.
Last week she played the Sydney Opera House. You could feel her sense of awe at everything that’s happened to her and part of the reason you could feel it is because you knew her story, having seen, like everyone else there, the viral video of her at music school three years ago: playing her then-just-written song Alaska and having her school’s surprise guest that day, Pharrell Williams, basically tell her that she was a sort of musical prophet.
You saw in that video the precise moment she went from one of us to one of them, which is a moment so rarely captured.
She said to the Powerstation crowd that, after that moment: “I got on stage every night not knowing who I’d find but owing it to that girl in my bedroom to find out.” Then she played her biggest hit, Light On, which is about that very internal struggle.
In the opening bars, in her eyes and her stillness, you could see she was moved. I was moved. We were moved, collectively. It was such an emotionally charged moment. And then the catharsis of the release into the singalong genius of the chorus.
She played the song that had so moved Pharrell, (“You might have seen this one”) and all her other crowd pleasers: Give a Little, Burning, Overnight, and she closed with the evocative Fallingwater.
The feeling of joy was strong and the crowd was full of love. A young performer on her first world tour, who not that long ago was just like us, except with a special songwriting gift, a voice of sweetness and power, and a dramatic presence that allowed her to shrink the stage to pocket size and draw the audience in.
It felt like discovering a special performer just discovering for herself, how special she is.