This time almost exactly two years ago, I was blasting Begonia through my headphones at work. Her 2019 debut album, Fear, filled my ears with electric energy and personal lyrics. I was getting ready to start a new job, take a trip to Mexico, and then return to see Begonia perform at MilkBoy in Philly. Excitement was in the air.
But this was March 2020, aka when the world was put on pause.
Instead of going to a show on Friday, March 15, 2020, I was hunkered down at my apartment trying to figure out how to make a mask while eating too much charcuterie and DIYing cocktails. If anyone had told me it would be over a year until I saw another show, I think I would’ve laughed. And then probably cried.
But flash forward to Friday, March 11, 2022. Begonia’s tour was rescheduled, and she was back in Philly. After my ID and vaxx card were checked at the door, I noticed a bar full of people as I climbed the stairs to the stage at MilkBoy. House music was playing through the speakers as fellow concertgoers packed in towards the stage. I ordered a gin and soda and felt the familiar hug of the environment. While this wasn’t my first show since the pandemic began, it was the first time I was in a venue this small, packed to the brim, with folks who love live music as much as I do.
By 8:30 the opener, who I won’t name, went on. They crooned and overly vocalized every original and cover song they performed. Hot take: acoustic versions of Drake and Outkast should never be performed. Ever. After 45 minutes they cleared the stage (finally) and patrons headed to the bar to get in another round before the main act.
But then she came out. Alexa Dirks aka Begonia walked through the crowd towards the stage, her band mates in tow. Dressed in a matching set with jewels on her face, the crowd gently parted as applause and yells grew in waves. She opened the set with my personal favorite “The Other Side,” showing off her dynamic vocal range and captivating stage presence. You know how sometimes you’re disappointed with how an artist sounds live? This was the opposite.
And with my eyes closed
I listen in the night
Thinking it'd be nice
Just to see
The other side
A bit into the show, a friend joined me. He had never heard of Begonia, but trusted my taste. I think he’d say how glad he was he took the chance on coming out.
As the end of the show rolled in, she had performed most of Fear and a few hit singles. We had danced and swayed our bodies to the beats, singing along to some of the bigger hits like “Beats.” Despite her powerful voice and catchy songs, Begonia hasn’t reached mainstream success quite yet in the US. During the show she remarked how she’d be happy if only ten people were at the show, and I’m happy that the 200+ people in the room were a visible symbol of how talented and loved she is.
Begonia walked off the stage, again cutting through the crowd that parted as congratulations and praise were shouted her way. As she approached my direction, I couldn’t help but look her square in the eye, saying “that was absolutely incredible.” She paused, sweetly smiled and said thank you, and gently patted my arm as she walked by. The power of connection after two years of varying degrees of isolation…well, there really aren’t any words.
Go hug your friends if you can, listen to your favorite artists, and remember that electric feeling that can strike through your bones when the beat hits. Go enjoy the show.
Can you describe how to catch a feeling
Changing your mind isn't worth the dealing
But once you decide you're living at the ceiling
You can't get no high
You can't get no higher