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Maggie Rogers Wants You To Dance, And She's Not Afraid To Demand It

It’s rare that someone on tour with their first studio album looks completely at ease on stage, but as Maggie Rogers would remind us during her concert at the Sydney Opera House, this didn’t just happen overnight.

“This all sort of happened very quickly to me -- I say that, but also, it didn’t happen quickly, you know -- I went to school and worked really hard for 10 years,” the 25-year-old singer told the crowd, exclaiming: “It’s important to know that!”

The hard work has obviously paid off. Commanding the stage with ease, Maggie performed with an energy so carefree and uninhibited that it felt very intimate. Watching her dance and twirl to her music with such glee as the drum pounded at just the right moment was like watching the excitement of someone hearing it for the first time as the pieces of the song fell into place. Her long pink scarf floating behind her with every turn, the audience remained captivated throughout the Vivid Festival event.

When the audience wasn’t matching her energy and excitement -- the all-seated Opera House doesn’t really lend itself to an uninhibited crowd -- she wasn’t afraid to demand that the audience rise up (quite literally) to meet her level.

Stopping a song mid-performance, Maggie addressed us, lightheartedly schooling us on what she needed from a crowd.

“Really quickly, just a brief aside,” she began. “If you got back in your seat? That was the wrong choice!”

Met with laughter and rapturous applause, she continued.

“Sometimes, you need to call your mum, you need to call your friend, you need to call your therapist, you need to talk about your life, you need to talk to your journal,” she said. “And sometimes, you need to move, and you need to dance and you need to sweat! I will say, I have designed this set specifically so you could do both at the same time... We are here tonight to help you let go of whatever shit you’re holding in. So whatever you’ve got going on… we’re gonna try this one more time. For your benefit!”

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It wasn’t the only time Maggie’s sassy side jumped out. Returning to the stage at the end of the night for an acapella encore, an audience member yelled “SING TIM MCGRAW!” -- a Taylor Swift song that Maggie has covered in the past.

“I’m not gonna sing that song, I’m gonna sing the song I wanna sing?!” she shot back, in perfect Valley Girl uptalk, before adding: “But I appreciate your enthusiasm.”

Maggie went on to instruct the crowd to go ahead and “cough or sneeze” if necessary during the solo, but stated that she wasn’t about to put up with anyone whistling or screaming.

“If you have to have to yell something, or whistle -- you know who I’m looking at -- um, just wait ‘til after, ‘coz that’s rude,” she said.

As the crowd applauded, someone in the crowd whistled.

“Still rude,” she responded, adding: “They consider it sexual harassment, in some countries,” as the crowd ate it up, screaming in support.

Maggie wasn’t always this confident in herself, though.

“For the longest time, and what most of this record is about, I was really, really, really scared,” she told the audience. “And really overwhelmed, and I think what I’ve been learning, so much of this record is about this giant change that happened in my life, and the longer I live a real, official, adult life outside of college, the more I realise that change is constant, and it wasn’t this big change that happened after college, change is always happening, it’s about navigating it.”

She told us how grateful she was to be playing “such a sacred space” with her band, and how after years of change and turbulence and feelings of being overwhelmed, she was “really happy” to be with us.

“To be on the other side of the world and to get to show you my feelings for an hour and a half is a real privilege,” she said.

“I’m getting really emotional!” Maggie exclaimed at one point, before adding that they should start the next song or she’d start crying.

With the themes of the night being change, gratitude and confidence, Maggie made it clear during her final speech that she was coming into her own.

“On this tour, there’s some shift that’s been happening,” she began. “I’ve realised over the past couple of years that sometimes when I’m performing, my eyes are sort of like, half open, and it’s not on purpose, I think it’s instinctual -- you guys hold a lot of energy -- but I realised, specifically during ‘Retrograde’, that my eyes were fully open. And it’s really a wonderful feeling. I’m gonna just sing.”

Feature image: Getty