Taylor Swift in concert, the Eras Tour at SoFi Stadium, August 8, 2023 | Photo: Kat Sophia

I avoided every Eras Tour Video then got floor seats — here’s how it went.

If there were any show to have a social media blackout for, this was it. I’ve been a fan of Taylor Swift for over a decade, and it’s been an utter joy seeing her grow up as I did. It feels as though her music has grown with me, soundtracking different phases of my life. On August 8, I went to see Swift perform at what is being hailed as her greatest moment to date — her career spanning Eras Tour.

Nearly half a million fans had sold out Taylor Swift’s whopping six dates at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium. The only problem? Because it was such a huge show, there were videos everywhere. Friends of mine who’d never had any interest in Swift were being bombarded with videos, and suddenly knew every detail of her tour against their will.

But I stayed blind. And I’m so glad I did.

There was a staggering number of mothers and their miniature versions (a.k.a. daughters) walking into the stadium before the show started. I went with my mother too, which has become somewhat of a tradition of ours. She’d surprised me with tickets twice before, so I took her this year and asked her prom-posal style (she cried). Almost every well-known outfit Taylor has worn was donned in the stands, and so was almost every demographic; the mothers and daughters, fathers, sons, even an elderly man who we offered a pair of earplugs to. He covered his ears seconds into the show; there was no way he could have prepared for the screams that were to come.

The show started off with “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince,” announcing that we’d be entering the Lover era. The show moved through the album cycles, or “eras,” with playful interludes in between; each contained visual clues hinting which would come next. Lover turned to Fearless with golden sparks falling from the air (literally), Fearless entered evermore with woods and tree imagery, and my favorite era, Red, was introduced with a red box and dancer who opened it a few times, letting Red song snippets escape each time. Highlights included sleeper hit “Cruel Summer” with its bombastic, sprawling bridge, the throwback track “Fearless” with its urgent guitar intro, and the masterfully penned track “no body, no crime” with opener HAIM joining in. Standout sets from the night include the ginormous dining table Swift crawls across in “tolerate it,” the multitude of dancers dressed as different eras of Taylor trapped in clear boxes during “Look What You Made Me Do,” and the wooden folklore cabin she dances around in “last great american dynasty.” During the latter, Swift brazenly sings “I had a marvelous time” with a huge grin, motioning towards the crowd.

The eight minute standing ovation (on 8/8, aptly) was something I could tell was special, even before finding out later that its length was record-breaking. Swift paused to wait out the cheers, and it was the first time of the night where she didn’t look completely in control; she was stunned, overwhelmed. I made the mistake of unplugging my ears; it sounded like a shrill, high pitched squeal; I think it may have actually burst my eardrums.

Swift ended the night with Midnights’s tracks “Mastermind” and “Karma.” Ending each show with these songs is fitting, with “Mastermind” detailing how she “laid the groundwork, and then just like clockwork, the dominoes cascaded in a line. What if I told you I’m a mastermind?” After, Swift sings that karma is her “boyfriend.” And while most would garner it’s about her recent relationship, I’d like to think she’s being a bit literal. Is her most fruitful relationship not, in a way, the mystical force that moves her? Swift’s masters were bought out and then … she broke an echelon of records previously out of reach by pumping out old material at record speed. A certain rapper slowly burnt and almost destroyed her career with an edited video, and the full phone call leaked and vindicated her … then his career took a sharp downward turn, while she became the biggest superstar on the planet.

The most unexpected, but also most welcome, part of the show was the patchwork of memories and flashbacks Swift’s setlist created in my mind. Halfway through the ten-minute behemoth “All Too Well,” I was suddenly in 2012, feverishly reading the liner notes of my Red CD in bed, working through my heartache. “Enchanted” took me back to the eagerness of checking out the Speak Now CD from my favorite library. When “…Ready For It?” introduced the reputation era, I was on a cool, autumn walk ditching tennis class in high school right when the newest single came out, staring at the browning leaves littering the courts. Swift’s confessional storytelling easily lends itself to capturing these moments, but seeing it live, and seeing her react, in real time, to everyone singing her songs that have become almost theirs as much as hers … was as close to enchantment as you can get.

That’s why, in a stadium with 70,000 fans, Swift can manage to make every single pair of ears feel intimately connected to her. While, yes, there was unbelievable effort and minute attention to detail put into this show, it cannot be denied that the main event — her music — has been the soundtrack to so many lives. To a degree that even Swift herself most likely cannot fully comprehend. And you can’t quite replace that with anything else.

I indulged in a three and a half hour show and reveled in it. I loved not knowing which era was coming next and guessing based on a hint of color, one note of a song, or the first few words of her folklore spoken word intro. And in the end, Taylor Swift unlocked the purest depths of my psyche and gave me what was, quite possibly, the best night of my life.


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