Maggie Rogers is only three years older than her opening act on the UK leg of her Feral Joy tour. Samia Najimy Finnerty, whose stage name is simply Samia, is 25, and also went to school in New York City before beginning her musical career. When she walks on stage at the O2 Academy in Glasgow, she can be easily mistaken for as young as 18, a small woman with thick hair evoking Amy Winehouse comparisons. Her outfit is vaguely adolescent, a white flowy skort and a thick strapped recognizably Free People top. However, she has the spunk and seriousness of a dedicated rock star.
Samia’s performance is erratic in the best way. She kicks and twirls and belts and lays on the stage. There is something about her unpolishedness, being a young woman opening for a musical icon’s second international tour, that makes her performance so effective. There are notes of Maggie in her stage presence, the way she freely pops her hips or gestures her arms fervently to the beat of her own songs, but she is also her own performer, and upon further research, it can be seen that she has her own promising career.
People in the crowd know her songs, which feels surprising. It seems that Samia has effectively made her way to the UK because even upon the introduction of songs, the audience is cheering. Her first and only full album, The Baby, was released in 2020. In an interview with the online site Dork, Samia said The Baby was written autobiographically, describing her own personal experiences with every part of getting older, from heartbreak to finding confidence. Songs she is now performing live from this album, along with her 2021 Scout EP, demonstrate her talent as a songwriter and singer with an incredible range. She is deserving of any audience, especially of fans like Rogers’ who know how to appreciate a talented artist.
At one point, between sips of water, she admits “I can’t believe people have heard my music who don’t live in my house.” She is sarcastic and self-deprecating in a loveable way, and whispers into the mic between rounds of applause “You guys are nice.”
When introducing her new single ‘Mad at Me’ from her album Honey coming in 2023, she says “This song is about not wanting people to be mad at me for anything ever.” The single is poppy and upbeat but has an underlying tone of anxiety, which is more prevalent live than in the recorded and produced synthesised version.
Samia performing is a different person than Samia’s inner dialogue. When dancing and singing, she is so unencumbered and confident. Yet in her visible shock at the audience’s response to her and the message behind so many of her songs, her youth comes through. What feels most relevant, though, is her honesty. Yes, she’s a less seasoned performer than Rogers despite being close in age and she lacks the polished boldness that Rogers has mastered. However, she demonstrates the raw talent and passion needed to be successful in this industry, and I feel confident in three years time she will be.
Image courtesy of Isabel Beiboer, used with permission.