She emerged from the darkness in a black veil-draped leotard, a wavy blonde bob illuminating the night sky above her as a roar crescendoed across the crowd.

Just like that, Maggie Rogers came home.

The Eastern Shore native took the stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion stage on Sunday, the 14th stop on her Don’t Forget Me Tour. Named after her third studio album released in April, the tour brought Rogers to her home state venue for the second time in a year. Rogers performed at Merriweather in the All Things Go music festival last September, but Sunday’s show marked her first time headlining the venue.

Growing up in Easton, Maryland, Merriweather Post Pavilion is a sacred and sentimental space for Rogers. Throughout the Father’s Day show, Rogers reminisced about the times her dad would drive her across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to shows at the venue, gathering a far-away look in her eyes as she pointed out where in the audience she sat during the concerts of years past.

“Every show I saw here, I always bought the poster and now I have all those posters hanging up in my house next to each other,” Rogers said during the show.

Fittingly, the singer sold an exclusive poster featuring a great blue heron during Sunday’s show, bringing a piece of the Eastern Shore to the hills of Columbia.

[The stars aligned for All Things Go]

As the final hour of sun stretched out across the Merriweather lawn before Rogers’ performance, English indie musician Amber Mary Bain, known as The Japanese House, took to the stage, warming up the crowd as the summer air chilled into night. As the scorching sun dipped below the horizon and Bain bowed, the energy in the air was palpable. 

The show kicked off in an electric way with the first four songs from her recent album, starting with the jovial “It Was Coming All Along.” The easygoing, self-reflective track soon gave way to the album’s highly energetic tune with “Drunk,” before the show veered into Rogers’ soulfully independent “So Sick of Dreaming” — featuring an ad-libbed nod to the Baltimore Orioles.

After turning back the clock to some of her older work, including a heart-wrenching rendition of “Love You For a Long Time” that brought the riotous audience to a silent sway, Rogers shared that there was a special guest at the show. In a pleasantly shocking turn of events, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, sporting jeans and a black Under Armour T-shirt, joined the singer on stage for a surprise announcement. 

“Because of the way she represents Maryland in such a beautiful way, because of her work around registering voters, because of her work being a champion for reproductive health and reproductive rights, because of her work advocating for fair ticket pricing for all her fans, I am proud to announce that from now on, June 16, 2024 is in the state of Maryland, Maggie Rogers Day,” Moore said while holding a framed proclamation.

Moved and flustered, Rogers embraced the politician and waited for the stunned crowd to quiet down before leaning into the mic for a simple yet playful, “I accept.”

[She couldn’t find makeup for her skin tone. So she made her own brand.]

The rest of the show abandoned the first act’s strict sequential order, intermixing old hits played in new ways with fresh favorites. The artist’s first hit, “Alaska,” which blew up because a viral video of Pharrell Williams’ praising the then-NYU student’s sound in 2017, was reworked into an acoustic-styled country ballad, akin to Rogers’ feature on last year’s Zach Bryan single “Dawns.”

As a performer, Rogers’ talent is undeniable. All night she swerved, dipped and danced across the stage, her movements as fluid as the melodies in her 2019 hit “Fallingwater.” As a persona, Rogers is irresistible. In an era of artists spouting out the same rehearsed pseudo vulnerabilities at every venue, Rogers is refreshingly bare, honest and raw.

It is no easy feat to make Merriweather as cozy as a small-town bar, but for Rogers, it seemed impossible not to. Stories from other concerts swirled in with memories of her Maryland upbringing, from music lessons at Salisbury University to seeing the Black Eyed Peas on that very stage.

At the close of the show’s encore, left in the emotionally weighty aftermath of her new album’s title track, Rogers brought a hush over the crowd. With stinging emotion, she delivered a cover of “Over The Rainbow” — her father’s favorite song. If it was possible to hear a pin drop in a venue the size of Merriweather, it would be in the silences between the lines made famous by Judy Garland decades ago.

Rogers’ performance was more than an artist taking up space on stage — it was a ruler returning to stake her claim. If Sunday’s crowd was any indication, few should dare challenge her for the pavilion’s throne.