​​There were bright skies and mid 70s temperatures in Philadelphia this Sunday, prime condition for lining up outdoors to see pop singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers play an intimate pop-up show at the TLA.

Her third album, Don’t Forget Me, came out last Friday, and to celebrate the release — and warm up for her biggest tour to date, which kicks off this summer — Rogers played a series of surprise small-venue shows on the east coast this weekend. Fans queued up at daybreak at The Fillmore Philadelphia’s box office to buy tickets (sales only happened in person, not online). Across town twelve hours later, they lined up again around the block at 3rd and South, waiting to get inside the venue.

It had been a long day for everyone by the time Rogers hit the stage, but the energy inside the TLA was nevertheless electric. These were true believers, chanting her name as the wait wound down, and with the big sound of a six-piece band backing her, Rogers grooved, danced, and opened the show the way Don’t Forget Me opens: with the burning anthem “It Was Coming All Along.”

The Maryland-rooted Rogers has always been a formidable vocalist and songwriter, going back to the viral breakout of her 2017 hit “Alaska.” But where previously her music was lost in the dream of emotive synthpop, the new songs feel bigger and bolder, informed by 80s pop and rock (hints of Pat Benetar drive “Drunk,” while the gentle “So Sick Of Dreaming” was a pure Fleetwood Mac groove) with notes of modern country as well (“Never Going Home” and the title track recall Zach Bryan and Brandi Carlile).

Maggie Rogers | photo by Paige Walter for WXPN

Rogers’ backing band — Bryndon Cook on guitar, Bryn Bliska on keys, Nick Rathaus on percussion, Brian Kelsey on bass, Jordan Rose on drums, and Shannon Callihan on guitar — brought the textures of the record to life and elevated Rogers as she shared this batch of new material reflecting on love and its misadventures. On “The Kill” in particular, she struck a particularly Swiftian balance of honeyed melody, earworm hooks, and deliberately specific lyrical detail that set the scene vividly (“You kept my secrеts and stole my weaknesses in your white T-shirts”), culminating in powerhouse vocal runs.

 The music sounded massive, but part of the reason Rogers succeeded so much in the TLA setting, and something that will be markedly different when she plays Wells Fargo Center in October, is the ability it gave her to interact with fans up at an close and personal level. Her appeal lies not only in her songs (which are great) but her down-to-earth and relatable persona; she manages to, even in her pop star glory, feel like an approachable everyperson, but not in a contrived way.

 This informed the back catalog songs she played; they were chosen from fan requests, some shouted, some held up in a notes app, and some through more elaborate means, like a front row fan who constructed a pick-a-number game with her requests.

 And Rogers gave real time commentary on the songs people wanted to hear. On the high-paced funky “Shatter”: “this song is hard as shit. I dare you to open up a pit, Philly.” Ahead of an even heavier run of anthems — “Burning” into “On And Off” into “Anywhere With You”: “this is a high-intensity set, so you better bring it.” (The crowd did; they were evidently in an extremely amped mood for a Sunday night.)

 Rogers found other ways to interact too: she traded requests for gossip, with one fan telling a story about prom woes and Rogers offering advice like an old friend. When a couple named Adri and Sophia got engaged mid-set in the back of the venue, Rogers shouted “Someone just proposed? Whoa, shit! You know I’ve got to play ‘Love You For A Long Time’ now.”

 Her appreciation of this level of fandom did not go unstated. “If you are a person in this room, you got up so early today,” Rogers said. “I would not get to do any version of this without you and the community you created.”

 She likened meeting her fans to a house party: they’re either someone you know and love, or they’re bringing somebody you get to know and love.

 “It’s so rare and so special,” Rogers said. “And it allows me to be so loose and real and honest with you, and I thank you for that.”

Maggie Rogers
  • It Was Coming All Along
  • Drunk
  • So Sick Of Dreaming
  • The Kill
  • Shatter
  • Be Cool
  • Dog Years
  • Alaska
  • If Now Was Then
  • I Still Do
  • On & On & On
  • Never Going Home
  • Say It
  • Love You For A Long Time
  • Burning
  • On And Off
  • Anywhere With You
  • That's Where I Am
  • All The Same
  • Don't Forget Me