The sweet humidity of air-filled lungs. The gray clouds hung above, hinting at the rain to come. It was the calm before a storm. People were dressed in various shades of black, pink, and brown, with gems and rhinestones lining their faces. The colors were a stark contrast to the dreary openness of the Gillette Stadium. The lights started to dim and the crowd began to hush. Heartbeats began to race. Badum Badum. It was here. She was here. 

Thousands of fans share this experience for a single, three-and-a half-hour-long night. Starting on March 17, in Glendale, Arizona, Taylor Swift traveled through the US performing her Eras Tour setlist in 20 cities across 27 states. 

Her Eras Tour setlist includes a few songs from each of her albums starting with her Lover album and working through some of her older albums such as Speak Now, Red, and 1989. Finally, the show ends with her most recent one, Midnights. 

At each performance, Swift makes sure to dedicate two songs from any of her albums as “surprise songs” for her audience, giving a uniquely personalized concert experience to all her fans regardless of what night they are able to attend— if they were even able to attend at all. 

While many fans were able to get tickets off TicketMaster and experience the concert in person, plenty had to find other alternatives to enjoy the show such as through livestreams on social media platforms like TikTok or YouTube, or videos recorded and shared by friends. Many Swifties, though, found another alternative. 

“I think it started around Philly where you would see videos of thousands of people outside the stadiums,” said Caroline Kenny ’24, who has attended four of Swift’s concerts— two in Massachusetts and two in Colorado. 

Although these Swifties were not able to purchase a ticket and sit in stadiums, that did not stop them from getting a chance to experience the concert. 

The passion to enjoy her music and go to lengths in order to enjoy it is often reflected in building the Swiftie community. Friendship bracelets were a huge hit at her concert, and Swifties approached one another asking to exchange bracelets. 

This simple act established connections between fans who otherwise would have remained strangers. 

For Ms. Caroline Spangler, a biology teacher at the school, while the friendship bracelets helped her connect with other Swifties at the concert, it also meant time spent with her daughters, making them late into the night. 

“My older daughter still wears one she made that said Gillette Away Car, which was awesome,” said Spangler. 

Gillette Away Car is a play on Swift’s song, Getaway Car from her 2017 Reputation album. Small “inside” jokes like these are what make Swiftie culture embrace the often large-scale yet interpersonal communities that can arise from music and modern pop culture. 

For many Swifties, the beginning of fandom often started with a close relative, family member, or friend. Kenny, for example, was introduced to Swift’s music through her grandfather who had owned Swift’s original 2006 debut CD. 

Aside from family, Kenny’s first bonding moment with the Swiftie community came in middle school. 

“I remember my friend and I would sit in the hallway during work time when we were supposed to be reading. We really weren’t allowed to log into iTunes, but on her iPad, we would listen to Red and 1989 in the hallway,” said Kenny. 

For Ms. Megan Church, a biology teacher at the high school, a similar experience brought her into the Swiftie community. 

“I got a burned version of her CD in high school, which is like pre-Spotify and music on your phone, where a friend bought her CD and copied all of the songs over to a CD for me to listen to in my car. And this was when she came out with Taylor Swift, her first album.” 

Although the burned track was missing the last two songs of the album, Church was able to experience a moment of shock and bonding with her sister when her sister played “I’m only me when I’m with you”, a song that had been left off her CD version. 

“That’s my biggest memory of connecting family and memories of friends with Taylor Swift’s music,” said Church. 

Spangler also experienced a similar family bonding moment. For her, waiting in the TicketMaster queue and getting tickets was a challenging experience. However, her daughter, a current college student, was able to get tickets and gift them to her younger siblings. 

“As a Christmas present, my older daughter made this little book about her experience getting into the queue and a picture of her with over 2000 people in the line and gave the tickets to her siblings. They were ecstatic,” said Spangler. 

For many fans, the experience at the show represented a long anticipated moment. As Swift sings at the beginning of her show from Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince, “It’s been a long time coming”. For Kenny, each one of the four shows she attended, no one show was the same as the last. 

For Church, the experience with her family was emotionally surreal as well. She attended the show with her sister, aunt, cousins, and a close family friend. 

“We definitely had that moment of emotion as well when she came out because this tour especially felt so built up. And there was so much anticipation and excitement around it—having these artists that I’ve listened to since I was my students’ age through so much of my life— it was that moment of chills and real excitement,” said Church. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *