Maggie Rogers debuts at Hollywood Bowl with new songs

Maggie Rogers debuted at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday coming off some other massive shows just days before at San Francisco’s Outside Lands, Morrison, Colorado’s Red Rocks and Chicago’s Lollapalooza, performing seven songs off her 2022 album Surrender. While it was a slightly shorter set list than her headlining date earlier this year at the Shrine (which we covered here), she surprised fans with three brand new songs as well as a little cover of a Whitney Houston song that totally slapped. Canadian indie-pop band Alvvays opened with 13 songs, including their popular tunes “Archie, Marry Me”, “Dreams Tonite” and “Pharmacist”, showcasing their harmonies and garage rock sound, like an updated female-male indie Beach Boys. Chris Douridas of KCRW asked fans what they thought of Alvvays and mentioned the tastemaker radio station has had their concert series with the Hollywood Bowl for 23 years, adding that it was “crazy” that this was Maggie Rogers’ Bowl debut.

Maggie Rogers must have had an out-of-body experience performing for the first time at the Los Angeles landmark, mentioning a couple times how thrilling yet bizarre it was for her. She took the stage with her band, wearing a daring, black leotard-looking outfit with a long sheer skirt. Following a pre-show montage of beautiful Rogers images in the forest, desert and city, she started slow on “Anywhere With You” and it picked up with flickering firefly lights. She shouted the song title and walked down the stairs and it was a great opener, followed by another crowd-pleaser, “Want Want” with red and black lighting and beautiful background harmonies from her band members. “Alright, how are you all doing?”, asked Rogers. “Can I have some house lights? All I can see is people in their seats having dinner. Here we are, this is unbelievably sick”. She added, “And if you’ve finished your food and want to give us a modicum of energy we’d appreciate it”.

Following the crowd laughter, she returned to an older song, the percussive, feel-good danceable “Burning”, giving “ooh oohs” with lots of fans up out of their seats. For the first new song of the evening, Rogers announced “So Sick of Dreaming” while on acoustic guitar, soaring vocally on the breezy tune, with three of her band members creating some special four-part harmony. It was very organic, like early Sheryl Crow pop-rock, complemented with an awesome guitar break from one of the guitarists. Pink and peach lighting took over the stage during the funk-rock “Overnight”, with moments of slight gospel as Rogers did her confident strut. Rogers danced on the drummer’s riser while “Shatter” kicked off with the guitarists for the lively indie-rock number. Her falsetto was going wild like a songbird and the Bowl lights were spiraling in yellow throughout.

“This night is this really crazy combination of things”, said Rogers. “This is one of the most gorgeous venues in the whole entire world”. Rogers shared that she came to see Christina Aguilera once and later said “maybe it’s so special because it feels unlike anything else. I’m just sorta breaking the brick wall here, it’s a funny one”. For “Be Cool”, Rogers said, “This is a song about being with your friend in the summer”, and the colorful stage lighting complemented the band’s inviting performance. Pretty black and white clouds filled the screens for the ballad “Begging For Rain”, with Maggie Rogers strumming center stage and fans’ phone lights up for a stunning moment. “Alaska” started off a cappella and continued with its light disco beat, with the singer back in the pocket in her falsetto, with Rogers later dancing it out on the instrumental. Following a nearly 30-second applause, she performed “The Kill”, the second new one, bright and mid-tempo. Rogers’ two female musicians (Bryn Bliska on keys and Elise Poirier on guitar) harmonized wonderfully, giving some Wilson Phillips vibes and Rogers belted at the end as the crowd completely loved her back. She had the lyrics to all three of the new songs on the screen, which was a nice touch.

“Love You For A Long Time” found Maggie Rogers back on guitar cooing away, with excellent instrumentation, production and vocals all around as the glorious three-part harmony was back. Each band member had a brief solo slot, illustrating just how phenomenal the unit is. Rogers danced back and forth with her bassist Bryndon Cook on “Retrograde”, in front of a B&W screen, making her way to the semicircle catwalk, getting the whole crowd clapping. She flipped her mic in the air and danced away, later mashing up the new song with a few bars of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, taking a swig from a wine or champagne bottle at the end. For her third new song “Don’t Forget Me”, Rogers played the lovely bluesy song on guitar with Bliska on the keys. Maggie Rogers said “that’s so sick” when she saw all of her fans’ lights up for “Light On”, where she nearly gasped at the end looking out after the rather hopeful, uplifting version of one of her brightest songs. Colors flashed for “That’s Where I Am”, with a big sound from her band. Fans danced and it was a true stadium moment.

For Maggie Rogers’ encore, early 2016 track “Dog Years” included another outstanding instrumental from her piano player, with green and blue lights and a peaceful vibe overall. “Truly a memorable evening”, said Rogers. “There’s never been a time in my life where I’ve been more grateful and happy to be on stage playing music. To me, it’s about the energy that passes back and forth between us”. She talked about the charities dear to her, both HeadCount and Planned Parenthood and added, “I never come out of a tour the same person. So next time we meet, I can’t wait to see what version of what haircut I have next”. Like her Shrine performance, she ended with “Different Kind of World”, playing it acoustic and really powerfully performing this prayer-like song. Voices harmonized for one last time with an epic ending from the band as the Bowl arches lit up in white like doves were being released.

Words by Michael Menachem
Images by Tim Aarons