Fans who attended singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers’s Saturday night concert in Austin described it as “pure joy,” “celebratory” and “dance-filled.” But the mood shifted at the very end, they say, when a concert-goer catcalled Rogers as she stood on stage.
Dianni Ortegon, a 27-year-old Austin-based product manager, says that she has been a fan ever since Rogers released her major-label debut, “Heard It In a Past Life,” in January. The concert, which was sold out to a 2,750-strong audience at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, was one of the last in Rogers’s tour, and Ortegon attended with her roommate. The majority of the show felt “like one big dance party,” Ortegon says, noting that there were mostly women in the crowd.
But the “really chill and fun” environment quickly shifted when Rogers returned to the stage at the end of the show to perform one last hit: “Alaska.” Rogers started talking about how the song had propelled her career, taking time to express how grateful she was to be on the road; she stood alone on stage, holding only her guitar. Then the crowd started getting “really rowdy,” Ortegon recalls.
That’s when a man in the crowd yelled loudly enough so that Rogers, and most of the other fans, could hear him: “Take your top off,” he said.
The room went silent. “It was unnerving almost,” Ortegon says.
Marissa Macias, a 22-year-old student at Texas State University in San Marcos, was also in the crowd. She remembers Rogers taking a step back from the microphone and telling the crowd that she felt very uncomfortable — that she was trying to make the concert a safe place for everyone. Then, another man yelled out, “You’re cute though.”
“I’ve never been part of a crowd that had an audible groan,” Macias says. “It was everywhere, just this deep groan. It didn’t feel right to anyone. As a woman, no one deserves to be catcalled like that, especially when she’s on stage performing for us.”
Rogers herself took to Twitter to explain the incident less than 24 hours later. Her post, fans say, is similar to what she talked about on stage: She reiterated that she always aims to “create a safe space” where she and her fans can “amplify each other.”
The performer condemned both comments, writing that “there is no space for harassment or disrespect or degradation of any kind at my show.”
For Javier Andres Prado, a 42-year-old father of two who lives in the Austin area and attended the concert, the moment was significant. “Being the father of an 11-year-old daughter, I totally get all the pressure of what it means to be a woman in this world,” he says. He hasn’t gotten the chance to tell his daughter about the incident yet, he says, but thinks that Rogers’s response was an example of “total professionalism.”
Rogers has also been outspoken about women’s rights in the past. (On her website, Rogers writes, “I’m a songwriter, producer, and performer from Brooklyn. I’m an optimist. I’m a feminist.”) Last year, Rogers curated an all-female lineup at a Washington, D.C., music festival — an aspect of the industry that has long been disproportionately dominated by men.
Ortegon, the product manager, says she has been thinking about the incident “a lot” since Saturday night. “It’s her workplace,” Ortegon explains.
Rogers did end up performing “Alaska,” during which the crowd was silent. But the minute the song ended, Ortegon says, Rogers “stormed off” the stage. (Rogers and the Moody Theater were unable to be reached for comment.)
Macias, the student, says she thinks it takes a lot of “courage” for a performer to speak up for herself like that.
“She was setting an example for not just artists but women in general,” Macias says. “If someone is doing something that’s making you uncomfortable, you have to do something. You have to tell them that it’s not okay.”