Edited by Anna Mengani
The much anticipated The Eras Tour is finally here. After surviving the great war of SeatGeek, I had the pleasure of attending the Arlington night 1 show. The entire experience is the highlight of my year. Screaming and crying to these songs since my childhood then finally getting to encounter them live and squealing them with thousands of other swifties will forever be a core memory.
Every single person in the arena was dressed incredibly. They were dressed up as everything from sheet ghosts to Taylor recreations dressed in glitter from head to toe. Swifties (Taylor Swift dedicated fans) produced this positive and encouraging energy in the stadium, we exchanged friendship bracelets and awed at everyone’s glimmering outfits. I was nervous our seat would not be very good, since we were so high up in the nose bleeds but once we made it all the way up there the worries disappeared. We were able to see everything and everyone in the stadium.
After waiting and munching on snacks, Gayle opened the tour for Arlington. Gayle is an 18-year-old Grammy nominee, American pop-rock singer from Plano, Texas. In 2021, Gayle released her single “ABCDEFU” which became viral on TikTok and peaked at number 3 on the Billboard charts and topped the charts in 2022. The Era’s Tour is not the only tour she will be opening for. Gayle is also set to perform in Pink’s European leg of her Pink Summer Carnival Tour.
Gayle put on a staggering performance and even interacted with the crowd. Although the stadium was not even halfway full at this point, I would have liked to see a little more enthusiasm from the crowd. Gayle performed 8 songs and began with her latest release "Everybody Hates Me”. She did a cover of "You Oughta Know”, and this one really got me hooked, the emotion in her voice was thick. I might have been the only one screaming those lyrics with her in my section but it was honestly therapeutic. She finished off her set with her hit song "ABCDEFU”, hearing the entire crowd singing this seriously gave me chills. It was so loud and passionate. She ended with a heartwarming speech about the crowd being so welcoming and thanked Taylor and her team for the opportunity.
About 30 minutes later, Muna took the stage. Muna is an Indie pop band from Los Angeles, California. The band consists of Katie Gavin as bass and vocals, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson as guitar. Muna has two EPs; More Perfect, Loudspeaker, and three full-length albums; About U, Saves the World, and self-titled Muna. Muna uses their musical talents and opportunities as a way to help embrace and make others feel comfortable in their identities.
Muna is the type of performer that was born to perform in front of an audience. Just like Taylor, they really know how to put on a show. They performed 7 songs and started with "What I Want”. This song set the tone for the set, right away I knew I was going to enjoy it. "What I Want” had me shaking my hips along with Katie the entire time. Another of my favorites is "Stayaway”. Not just the relatable lyrics but the crowd interactions and desperation in Katie's voice made it so memorable. "I Know A Place” had me on the brink of tears. The lyrics hit me hard and just watching Muna performing with such admiration and honesty made me feel so comfortable. Their reassuring speech before the song added to this comfort. I had not heard too much about Muna before hearing them live but I’ve now added them to my top bands.
Taylor Swift is an American singer-songwriter and Grammy winner from Nashville, Tennessee. Taylor Swift now has 10 albums out; Taylor Swift, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Speak Now, Red (Taylor’s Version), 1989, Reputation, Lover, Folklore, Evermore and Midnights. These are a variety of genres and I’m positive she has at least one song everyone will relate to and enjoy, if you do not already.
The next 46 minutes felt like a lifetime. Finally, the lights darkened and the countdown clock, representing Taylor’s latest album Midnights, was displayed on the screen. I swear I blinked and the timer was over as “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince'' began playing in the background. Next thing I know is Taylor is rising from under the stage in a glimmering bodysuit singing. The entire crowd screaming the bridge of “Cruel Summer” was staggering, I seriously had goosebumps. “The Man” was next and hearing thousands of women chanting “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can / wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man” brought out my anger but also a sense of hope for the future. This is where the height gave us an advantage, during “Lover” the crowd lights made pink hearts. I cried multiple times at this show and “The Archer” was the first time. The emotion, in not just Taylor’s voice but in the crowd, was angelic. That marked the end of the Lover era performance.
The next era made my inner child so proud and happy, she dreamed of seeing Taylor live. “Fearless," “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story” were my childhood anthems. Of course, she wore a remake of the Fearless gold fringe dress. The bridge of “Love Story” had the entire crowd jumping, I’m serious not one person was sitting.
The Evermore era was a theatrical performance. The "Willow” performance was an actual storyline, it really felt like watching a music video being shot live. Again, I was in tears during “Marjorie”, “Champagne Problems” and “Tolerate It”. The crowd sang so proudly during “Champagne Problems” they drowned out Taylor’s voice, “she would have made such a lovely bride, what a shame she’s fucked in the head”, it was incredible. The production alone of “Tolerate It” had me bawling. Taylor’s desperation to get him to understand and appreciate her and her efforts was deafening.
The next era was a completely different change in pace. Reputation is one of my favorite Taylor albums so I was channeling my inner Reputation stan. The era began with the sound of heels on cobblestone and a green snake slithering across the stage. "...Ready For It?” was the first song and you could hear the excitement in the crowd. Taylor came out in a black and red one-leg jumpsuit. Of course, the crowd chanted the iconic line, “1, 2, 3, let’s go bitch” during “Delicate” while Taylor counted down for us. The next song "Don’t Blame Me” has, and always will be, my all-time favorite production of a song to hear live and this day proved that to be right. The lights, the background vocals, everything was so heavenly. Her dance and catwalk was so on-beat and synchronized. The high notes she hits every single time, it seriously feels like you're floating. Then, the transition into “Look What You Made Me Do” was so seamless. The visuals for this song was impressive. It featured all the different Taylor eras being trapped in these boxes like dolls, then, Taylor is raised on the stage and they surround her. This is a recreation of the music video and many noticed the Speak Now Taylor was not released from the box which has led many swifties to believe this could be an easter egg for the release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version).
I was a little disappointed she only sang one song from Speak Now but it was breathtaking. She came out in a beautiful sparkling ballroom gown, singing “Enchanted”. This was another one of those times where the crowd sang louder than Taylor especially during the bridge. Everything was sparkling; the stage, her dress, the screens, even the crowd’s light up bracelets looked like glitter.
The introduction to the Red era was the best one in my opinion. It started with a red backstage box being wheeled in and each time it was opened a song played. I remember "State Of Grace” played for a second or 2 and the crowd kept singing the lyrics even after it had closed back up. Then, Taylor came out singing “22” in a remake of her iconic T-shirt which wrote “we are never getting back together, like ever." She did another outfit change for "We Are Never Getting Back Together” and "I Knew You Were Trouble” which was a red and black ombre glitter romper. Next, of course, I bawled and screamed to "All Too Well" (10 Minute Version). I actually never thought I would hear this live, so hearing the emotion in Taylor’s voice along with the anger and heartbreak in thousands of other fans was emotional and brought me to tears.
Entering the Folklore era shocked me because Taylor changed the set list from “Invisible String” to "The 1” which happens to be my favorite song on the album. The Grammy performance cabin was brought out and Taylor sang on the roof of it in a beige/off-white flowy dress. The lyrics and meaning to this song gets me emotional every time, "if you never bleed you’re never gonna grow” is such a motivating line. Taylor has such a unique way of getting her message across in her lyrics. Her lyrical intelligence is really reflected in Folklore and Evermore. Next, she sang “Betty” which is part of the love triangle between her fictional characters; James, Betty and Augustine. The song “Betty” describes the mistakes James made with Augustine and is now trying to apologize to Betty. “The Last Great American Dynasty” was performed next, which recounts the history of Taylor’s house. It was beautifully performed in a story book kind of way illustrating the previous owner handing the house down to Taylor with a knowing glance between the 2 of them. The love triangle continues with “August” told from the point of view of Augustine. This is such a heart wrenching interpretation of being the other girl knowing the relationship is never going to get far and you’ll one day lose them.
Taylor reveals their situation in such a way where you don’t see Augustine as a bad person. You understand her heartbreak and hope for something bigger, “wanting was enough for me, it was enough to live for the hope of it all.” I’ve lost count how many times Taylor brought out my tears this night but "Illicit Affairs” brought the waterfall. The agony in Taylor’s tone paired with the crowd singing along to every word was amazing. The meaning in the lyrics are so heartbreaking, "Look at this idiotic fool that you made me/you taught me a secret language I can’t speak with anyone else.” I just kept thinking how everyone in this room can relate to these songs in some way or another. Here We are all gathered chanting to each and every song and each song has a different meaning for each and every one of us. I was left in awe thinking about this while the crowd screamed, "and you know damn well for you I would ruin myself …a million little times.” The performance of “My Tears Ricochet'' reminded me of a “ghostly scene”. There was Taylor in the center and the dancers behind and around her wearing all-black glitter outfits all looking down. Again, this song had so much emotion in Taylor’s voice. The crushing lyrics, "Even on my worst day did I deserve, babe all the hell you gave me? / ‘Cause I loved you I swear I loved you till my dying day” accompanying the background ghostly vocals produced chills all throughout my body. The last song in this era, "Cardigan”, was a perfect closing. It is about the recollection of a past young relationship, one that made her feel whole. She knew they’d be back once they got it together, “ I knew you’d miss me once the thrill expired.”
1989 is the next era, and if anyone knows me, they know "Style” is MY song. So, when I heard those opening notes, I went wild. She came back out in a remake of her 1989 tour outfits, a sparkly green fringe 2 piece. I did not expect anything less, but when Taylor hit all those high notes, I was amazed. "Blank Space” brought out my inner psycho screaming, "darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” The entire crowd shook with Taylor during “Shake It Off”, glitter pieces flew everywhere. Taylor put her all into “Wildest Dreams”, her voice was so blissful while singing heartbreaking lyrics. I think the entire stadium left without eyebrows due to the fire during “Bad Blood”. I was already sweating from singing and dancing all night but the heat from the fire was so powerful that I felt it all the way up there.
The next part is not a separate era but a time when Taylor likes to sit on the piano with just her voice and the crowd. She performs 2 different songs every night and this night we got "Sad Beautiful Tragic” and "Ours”. I am really glad she decides to do these because it’s so emotional to hear just the crowd and Taylor. "Sad Beautiful Tragic”, as you could assume from the title, is one of the most somber songs, as are most of them from Red. With the most heartbreaking lines,” words, how little they mean when you’re a little too late”. This can be interpreted in so many ways. The way I understand is apologies don’t mean enough when it’s something you begged for, something you never got until they were ready to give it to you. This is explained more in the line, "good girls, hopeful they’ll be and long they will wait”, she has this innocence and hope that he’ll return, and he’ll apologize. For her, it doesn’t matter how long it will take because she loves that hard. The performance of only Taylor’s voice accentuates the vulnerability. On the other hand, “Ours” is more of an optimistic song and is from Speak Now. It is about reserving the relationship and not letting others' negative opinions affect them. The song radiates a sort of innocence that hearing it live spotlights. I could hear the smile in everyone’s voice while singing, “Don't you worry your pretty, little mind / people throw rocks at things that shine.” To end this portion, she dived into the water and swam away, which was an opening in the stage and the graphics on the stage mimicked the water.
The last era was Midnights, Taylor’s most recent album release. She came out in a lavender fur coat singing "Lavender Haze”. All the lights, graphics on the screen, the outfits and even the audience wristband lights were purple. Next was “Anti-Hero” where Taylor took off the coat and was left in a sparkly purple T-Shirt dress. The song is about self-awareness of your personal internal problems and mental health. In contrast to the self-deprecating lyrics, Taylor performed the song in a positive and giddy manner. The next outfit change happened during “Midnight Rain” into a midnight blue glimmering fringe bodysuit. Taylor performed a sultry dance number on a chair, which recently became popular on TikTok during "Vigilante Shit”. While singing “Bejeweled” the lights everywhere were colorful and she even did the viral dance. “Mastermind” felt like watching hypnosis being presented to us. She ended on a high with "Karma” in an oversized wildly rainbow fringe jacket. It was an incredible ending to the 3 plus hour set with small fireworks and confetti.
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