‘Beyond speechless’: A recap of Snoh Aalegra’s striking Manila debut

Juno Reyes

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‘Beyond speechless’: A recap of Snoh Aalegra’s striking Manila debut
Unforgettable is the best word to describe Snoh Aalegra's concert. For one, a couple in the crowd had marked a huge milestone that night with a proposal.

MANILA, Philippines – It’s become pretty normal to hear, “Manila, you’re the best!” when a foreign music act holds a concert in the Philippines. 

‘Beyond speechless’: A recap of Snoh Aalegra’s striking Manila debut

“They probably say that to every crowd they perform in front of,” I often think. Not for Snoh Aalegra, though. 

When she told us, “You guys are the best crowd I’ve ever had,” it was clear that she had really meant it. 

She had even stopped for a few moments at one point in the middle of her set just to silently (and happily) look at the sea of fans that had come to watch her perform live. 

The Iranian-born Swedish singer-songwriter was visibly stunned by the Filipino crowd’s enthusiasm during her concert on Thursday, May 30, at the Filinvest Tent in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

Just hours after her concert ended, the “IN YOUR EYES” singer took to Instagram to express her gratitude for those who attended her show. 

“Manila,” she wrote. “I am beyond speechless. Best crowd ever. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” 

Organized by Karpos, the one-night concert marked Snoh’s first time staging a show in the Philippines, and it was a night to remember – not just for her fans, but also for Snoh herself.

No place like #SnohAalegraInManila

Having been to my fair share of concerts, I already had a feeling of how the crowd would be: full of energy and the ability to sing all the lyrics to Snoh’s songs by heart, and I guessed correctly.

LONG-AWAITED ENTRANCE. Snoh Aalegra officially makes her Manila debut. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Whenever the background music would pause for a few seconds during the waiting period, numerous attendees would hilariously let out excited screams, thinking that Snoh was going to come out already. 

When the members of Snoh’s band stationed themselves on stage and began playing a lengthy instrumental to signal the start of the show, loud cheers had already begun to erupt at the Filinvest Tent. Come Snoh’s turn to finally make an entrance, then, everyone’s energy had only gotten higher. 

The musician opened her Manila concert with “Whoa,” one of the most popular tracks off her 2019 album, – Ugh, those feels again. Fans present at the venue had sung along with her the whole time – because when Filipinos are drawn to an artist’s discography, they make sure to show that with their entire being. 

“Whoa” was followed by the upbeat “Situationship” – for all the lovesick ones out there. After several songs, Snoh even asked the crowd if it was okay with them for her to “continue being a sad girl,” and of course, the answer was a resounding yes. 

Snoh had also opened up about what it took for her to become the artist that she is now, admitting that she had always felt like she didn’t belong anywhere until she found her place on the stage. 

IN HER ELEMENT. Snoh Aalegra doing what she does best: music. Juno Reyes/Rappler

“The journey to this point has been a very long one for me. It hasn’t been easy….I’ve always felt a little misplaced. I felt like an outsider and I felt like I didn’t belong. I have immigrant parents. Everywhere I go, I feel like an immigrant. It sounds really cheesy, but the one place I really feel at home and welcome is on the stage,” she said. 

It was also refreshing to see Snoh comfortably engage in light banter with the crowd, making it apparent that the stage is truly where she belongs. 

“I have a question for the ladies. What’s up with guys these days?” Snoh quipped.

It was the perfect segue into her next track, “Nothing to Me,” which aptly tells the story of a failed relationship. There was a back and forth between Snoh and fans here, with the latter taking the lead for all the “That ain’t it” parts in the song. 

‘Find Someone Like You’

While many of the songs in Snoh’s Manila setlist tackled the pains of love and relationships, a couple in the crowd had marked a huge milestone that night with a proposal!

John “Knoxville” Monreal and his long-time girlfriend Maricar Santos had been dating for four years before Monreal decided to pop the question, and there was no better place to do it than at Snoh’s concert.

ENGAGED. John ‘Knoxville’ Monreal and Maricar Santos leave Snoh Aalegra’s concert with more than just the memory of seeing their favorite singer perform live! Photo courtesy of Maricar Santos

“I introduced Snoh’s music to her when I was compiling songs for a mixtape I was doing back then. From there, she got hooked and loved all her songs right away. Then we’d always joke around that we will save up money to get her to sing in our wedding. When I found out that she’s having a concert here, I said, ‘This is it. I may never get her to sing in our wedding but at least during my proposal,” Monreal told me.

When Snoh sang “Find Someone Like You” and “I Want You Around,” Monreal took it as his cue to get down on one knee.

‘WILL YOU MARRY ME?’ John ‘Knoxville’ Monreal proposes to his long-time girlfriend Maricar Santos at Snoh Aalegra’s concert. Photo courtesy of John ‘Knoxville’ Monreal

“Honestly, I was hoping he’d surprise me with a photo op with Snoh,” Santos joked. “But I would not have it any other way. It was so surreal. God is so good. I’m still inside my little bubble right now. Thank you, Snoh Aalegra!”

Snoh had even reposted an Instagram story someone shared of the proposal happening, extending her congratulations to the newly engaged couple.

“It’s like winning a lottery. We are truly grateful because her music inspired us. It’s not every day [that] you get a chance like this,” the couple said when I asked them how they felt upon seeing themselves on Snoh’s Instagram story.

The stage is hers

Everybody was clearly just excited to hear Snoh perform live. Without fail, everyone would scream when the band would play the first note of her songs’ intros, the thrill of recognizing their favorite songs taking over. 

It was a consistent, “I can’t believe I get to hear this song live” for me the entire time, and I’m sure everyone else around me shared the same sentiments. When I watched one of the videos I took when I got home from the concert, I could even hear someone in the background repeatedly saying, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” when Snoh began singing. 

All this aside, however, Snoh’s sheer artistry was the true highlight of the night. She had performed a total of 16 songs during her set, including a multi-track medley. 

DEBUT. Snoh Aalegra at her first-ever Manila show. Photo courtesy of Marcus Gawtee

Snoh had sounded heavenly in person. I was in total awe of how she could flawlessly belt out songs back-to-back with barely any breaks in between. Since then, I’ve been watching all the videos I took at her concert over and over again. 

Among all the concerts I’ve been to, Snoh Aalegra’s Manila debut easily takes one of the top spots. While standing room shows aren’t exactly my favorite, I’d willingly endure hours of non-stop standing if it meant getting to hear her live once more. –

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