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We Talked to Maggie Rogers Before She Plays a Free Show at Phonetopia Next Week

The immersive pop-up experience, hosted by phone company Visible, includes a lineup of celebrated performers, playing free shows for intimate crowds of up to 200 people.

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What would it be to spend a night inside your cellphone? Next week, an immersive pop-up experience in Denver is making that Black Mirror episode-prompt of an idea a reality.

From November 7–24, Phonetopia will turn a RiNo warehouse into the physical manifestation of a cellphone. What the hell does that mean? Expect a sort of adult playground loosely themed around the trappings of your phone. So, an SMS Arcade, an “Airplane (Mode) Lounge”—a bar that’s themed like the holiest of drinking establishments, the cabin of a 747—and “The Notification Gauntlet,” an obstacle course themed after pesky notifications and ads. (Speaking of ads, if this sounds a little toothless to be art, you’re right: The whole thing is a rollout party for cellphone service provider Visible.)

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But what sets the event apart from other experienced-based 2019 marketing fare is the music: The event’s 200-capacity room will host the likes of Maggie Rogers, Haim, French Montana, Griz, and more, including a top secret headliner. Oh, and the shows are free. To get on the list, head to Phonetopia’s website, where they’ll be releasing an RSVP link a week before each show.

Fresh off a world tour-ending gig in Nashville, we caught up with Maggie Rogers in an exclusive interview to talk about what the 200 lucky Denver fans can expect from her November 7 performance.

5280: You’ve played some memorable shows in Denver since your debut album, Heard It in a Past Life, dropped in January—an intimate gig at Larimer Lounge, a show at Red Rocks with Lizzo and Haim, and two sold-out nights at the Mission Ballroom a couple of months ago. 

Maggie Rogers: That Red Rocks show was so iconic. It’s crazy that happened. Larimer Lounge was special, too. That was the first time I was playing those songs off this record. I remember feeling really stupid, having my tour bus parked outside of this 200-person bar, and I remember how low the ceiling was and being determined to do a stage dive. Which I did! That’s actually a good analogy: I have an incredible amount of trust in my audience—they’re the people who have given me the chance to do this, and  given me the space to be vulnerable and feel safe about it. It’s just like what a good friend does for you.

And that’s what happened at the Mission Ballroom, I had a friend who had just died. I went on stage and ended up changing my costume halfway through…I wanted to play but didn’t want to perform. I felt so protected and supported by the fans. They let me find the space to be the most me on stage. I ask for the same thing from my friends.

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Have your shows in Denver felt unique? Or is a crowd a crowd?

Denver music crowds are so supportive and present. Some of my favorite shows on tour are when I go through Denver. I think I connect with outdoor culture.

I don’t know you, but that comes through in your branding. Like the video for “Alaska,” just you and some friends dancing in a field.

Well, the branding really is me. It’s just what I’m into. I spend a lot of time outside. My sister lives in Boulder, and we really just like to go hiking when I’m there. There are so many great parks in Denver.

You’re coming to Denver on November 7 to play to a room that’s about 1/10th the size of your last sold-out shows here. What’s the difference for you from a performance perspective between playing an arena and playing a bar?

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I think it’s just communicating different parts of myself. Coming back to do an intimate, acoustic, 200-person free performance, that is a really specific part of me, my musicality, my brain, and how I communicate my emotions. All of us have a strong duality—we have our introverted side and extroverted side. There’s a part of me that wants to dance to Whitney Houston in my kitchen and a part that wants to sit by a fire and listen to Lucinda Williams.

They both make up who I am. To do both of them back to back—coming from the Mission Ballroom to this Visible show, it’s really nice. It gives me opportunity to communicate both sides.

If You Go: Phonetopia takes place November 7–24. The exhibit is open Mondays to Wednesdays from 5–9 p.m.; Thursdays to Saturdays from 12–9 p.m.; and Sundays from 12–8 p.m. 2750 Blake St. Concerts begin at 8 p.m. For more info and to RSVP for concerts, visit phonetopia.com

Concert Schedule:
November 7: Maggie Rogers (RSVP live Thursday at 10 a.m.)
November 8: HAIM (RSVP live Friday at 10 a.m.)
November 14: French Montana and Tierra Wack (RSVP live November 7 at 10 a.m.)
November 16: Griz (RSVP live November 9 at 10 a.m.)
November 23: Surprise headliner (RSVP live November 15 at 10 a.m.)

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