Surprise! I am alive.
As you know, on Monday evening, a friend and I joined 44,998 other Swifties and descended upon Nats Stadium in your nation’s capital. It would be a lie if I told you I had ever been in a crowd full of such devoted fans to well, just about anything—not even the die hards at New York Comic Con could match the intensity of the fandom encompassed in that stadium. Yes, you could identify a handful of boyfriends who had been dragged along, but I was only able to identify about ten in total (one happened to be sitting to my right with his girlfriend and the other one happened to be sitting one row in front of me. Both of them made me feel very self-conscious, that I too should pretend to be in the “I don’t really want to be here but had to for my girlfriend club” in a show of solidarity. I ended up with a somewhat tolerable medium, but more on that later). People showed up in various t-shirts and homemade costumes that would make even the best cosplayers jealous (one thing I do want to ask is how on earth all these people became so skilled with the use of Christmas lights. When I was a teenager I did not have the kinds of skills to create flashing light type things. It was very impressive). It was a night full of amazeballs and I can definitively say without a doubt that Taylor Swift is the artist of her generation (and maybe ours to the extent we are considered Milennials).
Rather than try to take you through a step-by-step description of what happened, I bring to you a list of some of the things that made this my favorite concert of 2015 (and well, we all know that lists in non-chronological order are much easier for me to draft than anything with some semblance of a coherent narrative arc).
- When we entered the stadium, they handed us all rubber bracelets. I threw mine in a bag until a public service announcement told us all that we ought to put them on and take out the paper tag so as to activate the bracelets. Not wanting to stick out—seeing as how I obviously did not already stick out like a sore thumb, a giant amongst children—I dug around into my bag, found the bracelet, thanked the heavens that my wrist was not so fat as to not allow me to participate, and activated the sucker. And boy am I glad I did. When the artist of her generation started, these little bracelets lit up in a set of coordinated neon flashing greatness. It was how I imagine Woodstock was, only much less dangerous, and a heck of a lot cooler. The bracelets continued to flash in coordinated colors all evening.
- Two of the opening acts—Sam Mendes and Vance Joy—both played covers of that Sam Smith song that everyone loves. Have we reached a point now where people don’t play covers of Beatles songs? Do we now cover only what’s on the radio? Hmmmm . . . I will say that if I were touring with a living legend, I too would do this in order to find an audience. People went batshit crazy both times the song was played.
- The lines for veggie burgers were 30 minutes. The lines for Ben’s Chili Bowl were non-existent. Should I have been surprised? I mean Bill Cosby loves Ben’s Chili Bowl so shouldn’t we all be rushing to it at a concert? Too inappropriate? Too soon? Well, let’s just say if you follow the soon-to-be-best Instagram account dietsareformondays, you will know what I ended up eating.
- Taylor is all about girl power. She had tons of little video clips of her Bad Blood posse talking about her and how they love hanging out with Taylor in New York. That was all cool. Apparently, Lena Dunham is like Taylor’s new best friend. They have so much in common. Lena could not say that with a straight face. Only a few people understood why that was funny.
- Taylor has been bringing a surprise guest to every show. I hear one of the Jonas brothers showed up previously and rumor has it that the Tuesday show will have Jason DeRulo (I cannot promise that this will have been published before that show, but I can promise I am too lazy to find out who the guest was). Who did we get? We got LORDE! When Taylor said a great friend of hers who had previously won a Grammy had flown 19 hours to be there, I was thinking Adele because I don’t know anything about geography and how long it takes to fly to DC. Well, good for me because seeing Lorde up there was both a surprise and absolute craziness (I promise to stop using the word absolute in future entries).
- As you know, being a regular concert buddy of mine, every band has a song I want to hear played. So far, bands tend to fail. Passion Pit did not play Smile Upon Me the night the two of us became actual friends nor did Death Cab for Cutie play Transatlanticism for me. Did Taylor fail? No, but what she did may have been much worse. She took Love Story (which I had thought was called Romeo and Juliet) and stripped away its acoustic sound and turned it into an 80’s keyboard mess. It was the only moment of the night I wanted to look away. I was so disheartened that she had taken one of my top 10 songs of all time and turned it into . . . well . . . that. People loved it, and while I still loved listening to her voice, the song was not the same. Sad times.
- You want to know how I know I enjoyed it: I stood up for most of the concert! And we had seats! You know my feelings on concerts and how sitting is the best unless you are on the floor and get to dance freely (we must see Rihanna and must pay whatever it takes to have our very own plot of ground to get our jive on). Now, this is where the combination of being at a concert full of so many girl power songs and being so near two lame boyfriends really affected my ability to worship at the shrine of Taylor and dance like there was no one watching. The girls in front of us (and I say girls because they were teenagers) were dancing the way I imagine I do when I am “lost in the music”, arms flailing everywhere and words being belted out like nobody’s business. However, I could not get over the judgmental side-eye the guy to my right kept giving me, as if he were saying to me “I thought you were just here because your girlfriend made you come here.” I wanted to say “No, I did not get dragged here by my girlfriend who happens to be hundreds of miles away. I came here with a fellow Swiftie to rock out. Leave me be.” So anyways, I settled on an arms crossed, standing up, bouncing side to side, and singing words when I knew them kind of experience (it became very apparent that I only really knew choruses and that I need to hit some karaoke and some clubs soon).
- Fireworks. Yes, she used fireworks at the end when she performed Shake It Off. And yes, when she sang it, people went as crazy as you can imagine. Subtlety was not present throughout the concert.
- She got a little preachy up there about being loving to one another and being good to your friends. My friend pointed out that it was the message that moms wanted to hear for their kids, so I guess that was a good thing. If she said those things in 50% the number of words she did, I would have been all for it. But as my friend said: “She needed to shut up and do what we all came to hear her do: Sing.”
- She went through a lot of wardrobe changes. A lot. Which probably would have not been an issue if her mechanical walkway had not broken down partway through her set and stranded her there. She had to ask to have her keyboard brought up there so she could try to keep going, but you could tell she was visibly shaken. It was a good thing that they got that platform fixed or else the show would have bombed about halfway through (E Online did a decent write-up of both Lorde coming onstage and of the runway mishap).
- We need to sign up for more fan clubs of the musicians we love. On videos during the concert, it was revealed that Taylor did a bunch of secret mini-shows with her fans and baked them cookies and played the album for them. I want that to happen to me! I want the Fray to call me and say “Modellian, we are doing a private show and will play How to Save a Life for you and have the Grey’s Anatomy cast there as well to celebrate with you the best song of all time.” (OK, Coldplay Fix You may be the best song of all time, but no other song can bring me to tears like that Fray song).
- She played for 2 hours. TWO HOURS! Who does that anymore? Two hours of sing-along worthy music. It just doesn’t happen anymore. More artists need to do this. No wonder she made like $90 million last year. I have decided I will go to one leg of every one of her tours forever. $119 was a steal.
- I end on 13 because it is her favorite number. Taylor Swift is amazing and I envy Calvin Harris, my current favorite male artist, deeply. I am sure they are making beautiful music together.