"... Impressive natural talent, blinding sincerity and just a touch of ambiguity."
Travelling to Australia as part of Splendour In The Grass, Maggie Rogers graced Sydney with a sold-out sideshow that showcased impressive natural talent, blinding sincerity and just a touch of ambiguity.
Support for the night was another young female musician Mallrat, a Brisbane-based teenager who has embraced the tongue-in-cheek, catchy pop style of the Lily Allen era. She definitely has a knack for writing some great pop tunes, however, her inexperience got the better of her in a live setting. Give it a few years and she'll smash it.
Maggie Rogers started her show with the ethereal, bird-chirping Color Song, a layered multi-vocal track, before throwing out a crowd favourite Dog Years. Rogers is still very new to performing to bigger crowds and despite dancing carefree across the stage during Dog Years, there was something frustratingly restrained about her performance - throughout the show, Rogers seemed controlled and even her dancing seemed over-directed.
Armed with a guitar, Rogers made note of how frustrated and "drenched with rage" she was with the current political climate in the States with Hashtag before slinking into the hypnotic folk-electronic whitewash of Better. There was also an impressive ambient cover of Neil Young's Harvest Moon, which was probably unrecognisable to the younger members of the audience but it was a seriously cool reworking of the original. Not surprisingly Rogers finished with her latest single On + Off before sincerely thanking the crowd and diving into the track that started it all, Alaska, both of which had full audience participation.
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There is no doubt about the talent Rogers has (for a viral video sensation she's managed to stick it out a lot longer than most, and there's good reason for that) but it's still early days and there is a level hesitation to her performance. While her sincerity and enthusiasm are palpable, aspects of her live show (including her dancing) seem to be so polished that in turn they appear a bit fabricated. If she can shrug that off and be as carefree as she's trying to appear it will work wonders.