I’m going to be honest with you—Prior to the pandemic, I didn’t know too much about Taylor Swift. Sure, I knew all the classics from hearing them on the radio, but that was where it ended. I grew up in the world of Warped Tour and any music adjacent to it, yet never ventured too far into the pop world. But that all changed when I decided to listen to folklore the day it was released. I realized then that I had been missing out for many, many years.
So, when Taylor Swift announced the Eras Tour, and I witnessed the craziest battle in the Ticketmaster queues ensue, I knew I needed to attend to fully understand what it means to be a Swiftie because I had never seen an artist’s tour be so in-demand. I knew I was missing out on something. Post-concert, it’s safe to say I understand why people around the world are doing just about anything to acquire tickets.
This past weekend, Taylor Swift graced the state of New Jersey with three days of performances at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. I was fortunate enough to attend the second night on Saturday, May 27. I arrived early before doors to solidify parking, since state police warned that it would be limited. The fun had already begun for a lot of fans before they set foot in the stadium. The parking lot was full of tailgating, friendship bracelet trading, mini photoshoots, and lines to buy merchandise. Across the way, the American Dream Mall got into the Swiftie spirit by doing ticket giveaways, having photo ops in their mall, and letting fans who couldn’t get tickets tailgate on their parking deck to watch the show.
I fully committed to getting the full fan experience and hopped in line to grab merchandise. I was hoping to get the coveted blue crewneck, but it sold out by the time I got up front. Throughout my time of waiting in line (about an hour), I got to experience the true wholesomeness of the Swifties. Everyone was incredibly friendly and eager to chat with each other. Friendship bracelets covered the arms of many of them and exchanges happened nonstop. If you were caught without friendship bracelets, or only a couple of them like I was, Swifties will come up and offer you more, so you’re included. Even the employees of MetLife were joining in on the fun by accepting and trading bracelets.
As we made our way to our seats, we were greeted with even more kindness. Our next-door neighbors in our row were immediately welcoming and eager to hand out friendship bracelets. Everyone helped take each other’s photos in front of the stage to commemorate the night that was ahead. It was a night of nothing but pure happiness for the over 70,000 attendees.
The night kicked off with Gracie Abrams, whom I was looking forward to seeing a lot. Abrams gave one hell of a show and didn’t let the crowd still filling in deter her from giving it her all. She still has many dates left opening for Taylor Swift on this run, and you should get there early to watch her perform.
By the time Phoebe Bridgers came on, the crowd was ready to go. Bridgers gave quite an entrance by walking out to Disturbed’s “Down With The Sickness”—a total 180 from the earlier vibes, but one I wholeheartedly welcomed. The Saturday show of MetLife marked her second to last day on the Eras Tour, and it’s unfortunate for people that won’t get to see her perform. More importantly, fans will miss out on Bridgers’ appearance in Swift’s set where the duo performs “Nothing New” together. Taking a page out of Swift’s book, Bridgers also included a surprise song in her set, and we were lucky enough to get “Georgia.” Despite Bridgers playing for 40 minutes, it felt like time went by fast. Before we knew it, it was time for the moment tens of thousands of people were waiting for.
As the set changed over, and the countdown clock began, fans across the stadium ran from the bathroom and concession lines to their seats as fast as they could to be there the moment Swift walked out on stage. Once the clock struck zero, you could barely hear anything over the screams of excitement radiating through MetLife. And for the next 3.5 hours—It never stopped. For a large portion of the night, the crowd was louder than Swift, who took notice of their volume and deemed them a “mega crowd” for the evening.
From beginning to end, Swift and her team did nothing short of a flawless performance. No one on Team Taylor missed a single beat between outfit changes and set changes. The production flowed effortlessly between each era of her discography. It was more than just a concert—It was like watching a feature film with how intricately thought out each era was. Swift herself proved to be a powerhouse of a vocalist live, but even more so proved to be one of the most impressive performers in history. With very few minutes to change outfits, she rarely caught a break over the course of her 3-plus hour set. There are artists that struggle to last even 1.5 hours live without choreography and outfit changes, but that was no challenge for Swift at all.
Toward the end of the set, it was time for the “surprise songs.” In unison, everyone began manifesting they would get their secret song of choice. Night 1 at MetLife was gifted with my top choice—“Maroon,” so I wasn’t sure what to expect next. Swift kicked off the surprise songs portion by saying, “I’m going to do one that’s one of my favorites,” and jumped straight into “Holy Ground.” With a reference to New York in the song, it felt just right to play at MetLife. While other nights of the tour got introductions for each song, Swift moved right over to her piano and decided “False God”—another song with a New York reference—needed no intro. And she was right—Once the crowd realized what was happening, everyone absolutely lost it.
Somehow, three hours went by in the blink of an eye, and we reached the final era of the night—Midnights. The set kicked off with one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Lavender Haze,” and included other popular singles from the record such as “Anti-Hero” and “Bejeweled.” Despite the night coming to an end, Taylor Swift couldn’t say goodbye to New Jersey without one more surprise. For a second consecutive night, Ice Spice came out on stage for “Karma,” and the stadium was filled with confetti and fireworks. Fans eagerly rushed to grab whatever confetti on the floor that they could save as a memento for the life-changing show that had just ended.
After spending my night amongst a sea of Taylor Swift fans—I can wholeheartedly say I get it now. I understand why Swift is one of—if not the—biggest pop star of our time. There are thousands and thousands of concerts that happen every year. I’ve been on tour many times myself. I’ve attended hundreds, if not over a thousand, shows in my lifetime. But after this night, I fully stand by the statement that there is no one out there that does it quite like Taylor Swift.
All photos courtesy of TAS Rights Management