Review: Maggie Rogers’s “Summer of ’23” tour showcases her growth as an artist
Faye Benjamin ’25 reviews Maggie Rogers’s concert in Portland, Maine.
Orange was the color of the evening on July 31. The warm, golden sun lowered over the Fore River at Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine. Shortly after, the nearly tangerine-colored full moon rose in the sky, which headliner Maggie Rogers pointed out to the crowd. Matching the celestial bodies, Rogers emerged on stage wearing an orange leotard and a sheer wrap-skirt.
After the opener — singer-songwriter Soccer Mommy — left the stage, a montage of clips from Rogers’s music videos and tours played. The montage depicted simple scenes, like an open highway, as well as more chaotic ones, like a concert crowd lit up by colors radiating from the stage. For each older clip of Rogers dancing in the woods in a plain outfit with long hair, there was a newer one with more extravagant clothes, a short hairstyle and a metropolitan setting. The montage showed Rogers’s growth, individuality and versatility, and it made me reflect on my own history with Rogers’s music.
Before attending this concert at Thompson’s Point, I have had the privilege of seeing Rogers perform twice before. I saw her first at the Fillmore in Philadelphia back in March 2019. It was an electric experience, despite the venue being capped at only 450 people. The second time I saw Rogers perform was in 2019 at my high school’s cafeteria — an experience even more intimate than the one at the Fillmore. Rogers, a fellow graduate of St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware, came back for a surprise performance for current students and faculty. It was truly an unforgettable experience. At both concerts, I was blown away by Rogers’s talent and personality.
Going into the concert, I had high expectations. I have had the privilege of seeing Maggie perform twice before this concert, which were both great experiences. Over the past couple of years, Rogers has only gotten more popular and confident.
Rogers opened the concert with two punchy, fun songs — “Anywhere With You” and “Want Want”— and after exclaimed, “It’s good to be home.” Although Rogers is a Maryland native, she attended Wohelo summer camp in Raymond, Maine and spent the pandemic in her family’s home in Scarborough, Maine. It was in that house that Rogers wrote her second album “Surrender,” which is the focus of her “Summer of ’23” tour. In addition to sharing her joy of returning to Maine, Rogers noted, “I wrote those two songs about 20 minutes from here.”
Rogers played 18 songs in total, two of which — titled “The Kill” and “Don’t Forget Me” — are not yet released. A large portion of her setlist consisted of songs on her 2022 album “Surrender.” I prefer Rogers’s earlier songs over the tracks on “Surrender” for their nostalgia, softer tunes and references to nature. However, I appreciate her newer pop sound. I went into the concert loving her hit “That’s Where I Am” from “Surrender” for its catchy tune and because it sounds great in a car. I happily left the concert with a list of new favorites, including “Shatter” and “Be Cool.”
Rogers also threw in four of her hits from her first album, “Heard it in a Past Life” (2019), including “Alaska,” the song which made her famous after Pharrell raved about it. She also played her popular and sunny single “Love You For A Long Time,” as well as two tunes from her first EP, “Now That The Light is Fading.”
Since I am a long-time Maggie Rogers fan, the “Dog Years” and “Color Song” performances — songs from her first EP — were my favorites. Rogers’s performance of “Color Song” felt particularly spiritual. All the lights went dark except for two white spotlights that illuminated Rogers. The focus of the crowd was palpable. She sang the song slower than it appears on the EP, though the song is already slow to begin with. The care that went into singing each lyric left me with goosebumps.
Rogers admitted that she had not sung either “Dog Years” or “Color Song” live since 2019. Yet, she shared that she would play them tonight because she’s in Maine. Perhaps this is because these two songs have an emotional connection to Maine; the “Dog Years” music video was filmed at Rogers’s beloved sleepaway camp, while the lyrics to “Color Song” depict a campfire scene: “Now by the dying embers / We watched the day grow old.”
Rogers engaged with the crowd in a genuine way. In addition to sharing her love for the state of Maine and admiring the beauty of the moon, she playfully asked all the current or former camp counselors in the crowd to raise their hands. She looked delighted by the cheering response and abundance of hands soaring in the sky, including my own.
Thompson’s Point is also an awesome concert venue. The space is naturally beautiful and has an abundance of food trucks. Between my five friends and I, we tried grilled cheeses, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, tacos and the best donuts of my life, from Eighty8 Donuts in Portland.
I appreciate that I have been able to witness Rogers’s growth, from watching her play a 450-person venue to Thompson’s Point, which sold 6,500 tickets. Rogers is a great performer, expertly commanding the space at Thompson’s Point. Her body danced rhythmically and fluidly to each and every beat. While dancing, Rogers covered so much ground on the stage. This spirit is contagious. The enthusiastic crowd, composed mostly of young women, could not help but sway and dance along with her. The folksy, alternative singer-songwriter’s voice has the distinct quality to be both airy and sharp. It simultaneously washes over the listener as ambient music and commands them. With powerful songs like “That’s Where I Am” and Rogers’s radiant spirit, I can imagine Rogers performing on even grander stages in the future.