“Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out,”—me, staring at the ticket queue for “The Eras Tour” with my laptop, a presale code, and a dream… And also, a lyric from “Labyrinth” by Taylor Swift.
Since I secured two tickets for opening night of the highly-anticipated “Eras Tour,” in Glendale, Arizona, I’ve been asked the same question more times than I can count, “Why are you going across the country to see Taylor Swift?”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fair question. The tour’s stop at MetLife Stadium is only 45 minutes by train from my apartment and doesn’t require a flight, a hotel room, and taking precious PTO days. But as an avid Swiftie, the chance to be the first to experience a legacy tour put on by the woman whose music raised me seemed priceless. And the fact that I conquered the SeatGeek/Ticketmaster gods and actually got the tickets? Well, that seemed too good to be true.
And it was. Sort of.
Picture this: It’s opening night of what’s in the running to be the highest-grossing tour of all time, you’re seated only 26 narrow rows of floor-level seats from the stage. The energy is palpable. The crowd of 70,000 is screaming. One of the most prolific musicians of your generation is performing two decades worth of music after a five-year hiatus from touring.
And you’re puking your guts out.
Now, this wasn’t my experience, but it was that of my friend who joined me on the cross-country trek for this very night. When the first three hours of a 24-hour stomach bug hit her before Taylor even took the stage, it was impossible for me to fully enjoy the show knowing how shitty she felt. So for the last ninety minutes of the show, I held her hand and her hair from State Farm Stadium’s backstage medic booth.
The following day, while my friend holed up in our hotel with enough Pedialyte and saltine crackers to feed an army, I spent the day roaming downtown Phoenix. While taking myself out to lunch and scrolling TikTok to try and find the segments of last night’s show I’d missed, I landed on a video of Taylor singing night one’s surprise song, “mirrorball,” one of her many vulnerable-as-hell tracks that’s written for the people-pleasing girlies. It was at this point that I started to formulate my plans for that night.
Two glasses of rosé and a phone call to my always-supportive parents later, I asked my friend (who was still fighting to hold down a piece of bread) to be brutally honest with me: Would it be okay with her if I went to night two by myself? With her fervent and encouraging blessing, I took to Twitter that I was “ISO one ticket to Taylor Swift for tonight (3/18).”
By that point, it was 6:30 p.m., and I knew from the night before that Taylor went on stage at 8 p.m. sharp. With no ticket, the same outfit I’d worn 24 hours ago, and some anxiety about going to a concert solo for the first time, I hopped in an Uber to Swift City and hoped for the best.
Ten minutes before pulling up the venue, I sent $400 via PayPal to someone in my DMs selling a singular floor seat. I got there just in time to hear Paramore wrapping up their set and sent a picture of my insane view from row 16 to my friends back in New York, who at this point thought my Swiftie behaviors were becoming borderline deranged. They may or not be wrong, but who’s to say?
So that’s the story of how I ended up going to half of night one and all of night two of the Taylor Swift tour. If you stuck around through all of that, you’re no doubt wondering if I’ll ever get to the good stuff. Without further adieu, here’s my completely unbiased and not-at-all obsessive review of “The Eras Tour.”
Before Taylor even took the stage, she had the undivided and yearning attention of every single person in attendance. A countdown clock appearing on the screen as the lights went dark put a cease to all side conversations and entranced every eye and ear. As the countdown dwindled, a whispered montage of Swift’s titular tracks emerged from the speakers, sending the crowd into an uproar. When the music faded out, for two seconds, State Farm Stadium was the most silent, most still place in the world.
And then: complete fucking chaos.
Never in a million years would I have guessed that the teenage-toned, non-single Lover track, “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” would be the song that welcomed Swift back to the stage. But as the crowd screamed along to the song’s tense and angsty hook: “It’s been a long time coming but / It’s you and me / That’s my whole world,” it translated perfectly into a very Taylor-Swift-way of saying to her fans, “I missed you. I love you. You’re why I get to do this.”
Prior to opening night, one of the big mysteries surrounding the show was its structure. By announcing the tour as, “a journey through the musical eras of my career,” fans were left wondering how exactly that would play out on stage. Would it be a series of era-meets-era mashups? Her 230-track, 10-album, multi-genre discography divided by thematic elements? When she followed up “Miss Americana” with five additional Lover tracks, the architecture became clear: Each era was getting its own mini concert.
Dear reader, I don’t need to tell you what songs you can expect to hear at the show; you can find the 44-track setlist virtually anywhere on the internet by now. What I’m here to tell you is why, if you’re a fan, you should be taking any measures necessary to experience what I did.
“The Eras Tour” is an aesthetically-perfect production that speaks volumes about just how impressive Taylor Swift’s legacy of performing, storytelling, and owning her narrative is. And for lifelong fans like myself, it’s a cathartic, three-hour supercut of our own stories of heartbreak, wonderment, love, and grief—with a live performance of the soundtrack.
When Taylor played “Love Story” during the show’s Fearless segment, I was suddenly nine years old again, dreaming of being in love before I even knew what love was. Throughout all of Reputation’s stage time, I was in my freshman year dorm, blasting the album front-to-back with my roommate the night it debuted.
During “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” I was 19 and gutted by a heartbreak that consumed my world. And as she introduced one of night two’s surprise songs, “this is me trying,” with a speech about the battles everyone in the crowd was fighting in secret, I was transported back to the month I spent fighting for my life from a hospital bed in 2021, gaining a new understanding of: “I’ve been having a hard time adjusting / I had the shiniest wheels, now they’re rusting.” Long story short: There was a lot of ugly-crying.
Aside from being a personally therapeutic experience, Swift’s stamina throughout and deliverance of the show was just flat-out impressive—from the emotional tax “marjorie” seemed to take as her eyes welled with tears, to the bewitched rendition of “illicit affairs” that gave major Stevie Nicks vibes, to a Magic-Mike-style production of “Vigilante Shit” that reminded us all of how hot Taylor Swift is when she’s “dressing for revenge.”
After the final number, “Karma,” wrapped up the night, not a single person left without dancing, crying, and reveling in awe at the experience Swift created with “The Eras Tour.” Take it from someone who flew six hours, bought her ticket from an Uber, and is still recovering from the red-eye I took back to New York Sunday night: To attend a Taylor Swift concert is to cash in on an experience you’ll be talking about for the rest of your life. She is a once-in-a-lifetime, badass, absolute “Mastermind” of a performer, if you will.
All of this is to say: If you can, buy the ticket. It’s worth every penny and then some.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.