It’s hard to argue against the clear cultural impact and significance of the Eras Tour. Even Taylor Swift naysayers know that her ability to sell out a full stadium tour and still have thousands and thousands of fans waiting outside every night singing along is nothing short of extraordinary.
The tour has received top reviews from pretty much every major and well-respected publication. Music critics and journalists have said their piece about the tour and that’s great.
But Taylor’s music isn’t for them. It’s for the girls that grew up hiding from the world late at night in their bedroom, a journal and glitter gel pen in hand. Girls like me, who doodled little hearts next to the names of classmates, scribbled down some silly diary entries, and hung posters of our new favorite musician on our walls.
People keep asking me: “Why now?”
Taylor Swift has been an A-List celebrity for years to the point where many fans can’t even remember a time in their life when she wasn’t a household name. This time around, her tour and general success, feel different.
It almost feels like new fans are flooding in and jumping on the bandwagon. However, I have to argue that these fans have always been here just below the surface, but now something in them has been ignited and turned into an unmatchable passion.
Girlhood is defined by many things. For myself and probably a majority of my friends, Taylor was, in some way, a part of our upbringing. Whether she became a cornerstone in our lives (like me) or her music touched you for a brief era — a breakup, bullying spat, general hard time, or even just a catchy tune that you put on the stereo during drives around your small town with friends — her music is a common thread connecting many of us.
So, when Taylor began to revisit her old albums, rerecording and reclaiming them, it felt like we, too, were reflecting on our past alongside her.
Fans that may not have been invested to the point of endless streaming and following a tour before were touched with a new sense of nostalgia. As they heard that certain song or album that had resonated with them so truly at a time long ago, they realized how much life had changed since. They found a new meaning to Taylor Swift and were pulled down a vortex. From there, they were welcomed by a family of fans.
Another aspect of Taylor’s resurgence is her resilience in the face of adversity and, obviously, misogyny. Taylor’s story is one that is reflective of the modern music industry’s treatment of women at large. This little slice of misogyny is only part of the whole, too. Many women found themselves reflected in her battle.
Even many women who opposed Taylor during The Great War of 2016, have grown to now recognize the internalized misogyny that brought them to that point. They have since put that mindset to rest and returned to Taylor Swift, too.
This fiery combination of nostalgic girlhood matched with a powerful, fiery story of womanhood is what has brought us here: to Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour.
Across the country, fans have rallied the troops and arrived in droves at a stadium near (or perhaps not so near) them. A common feeling of understanding and excitement radiated between every person in that stadium.
I, myself, nervously clutched the friendship bracelets that I had spent weeks making. Around me, fans doing just the same were trading away. Typically, I wouldn’t push myself at a show to go make a new friend, but for Taylor? Anything.
The pre-show excitement slowly avalanched into anxiety. I didn’t know it then, but by the end of the show, that feeling would come to land at just utter peace.
Anticipation was replaced by screams… it was showtime.
I cheated. I knew the setlist ahead of time, but so did most fans.
When the setlist was first revealed, I wasn’t confident that I really understood why the eras were laid out how they were. Starting with “Lover” just didn’t feel right to me. When I thought of the Taylor Swift eras, they were in chronological order… starting with her debut album and ending with “Midnights”.
What I learned that night from watching Taylor Swift perform live is that somewhere along the way in her career, that road map wasn’t quite so simple anymore. Her story was no longer perfectly linear. She was always, and now more so than ever, in a state of self-reflection about her own work.
Releasing vault tracks alongside every Taylor’s Version album is a testament to that.
Each era felt so distinct, yet flowed into the next so seamlessly. With transitions including slithering snakes and diving into the stage, even the interludes were incredible. I never felt lost throughout the set. Taylor managed to keep the audience on focus for the full three hours, never letting the crowd lose their spark.
As for Taylor’s performance, her talent will never be in doubt. What stood out beyond her talent, though, was her work ethic, drive, and stamina.
The show wasn’t just a concert or gig, but truly a show. It was filled with a never-ending number of moving parts, stage cues, and choreographed bits. (Huge shout out to those behind the scenes who can make this possible!) Taylor has to make sure that every single night of that tour she is “on”. At no point has she shown a sign of exhaustion.
It doesn’t matter where she is, Taylor will make sure that show is memorable. Personally, I couldn’t even handle dancing along at my seat for the full three hours, so I can’t figure out how she performed the whole thing.
Every aspect of the show was also so incredibly well thought out. Taylor is known for her little easter eggs, but what makes her “Mastermind” brain capable of doing that is her natural sentimental attitude. From the visuals to the performance bits, you could tell that Taylor put herself into the show and had a heavy hand in its direction.
No one can ever say that Taylor is a passive musician. She won’t let anyone dictate her career ever again and that much was apparent from this tour.
She has kept anticipation across the entire tour by keeping every show special. Her secret songs every night have kept social media buzzing. Every weekend, I feel like I’m revisiting my own tour date when I check Twitter to see what she’s played.
The Eras Tour was technically only one night long for me. However, it feels like even the nights not spent at a stadium are just as important. The tour dates feel cohesive. The Eras era is distinct and it’s a feeling I never want to lose.
The tour connected fans across the country… and even the world. In our hearts, we’re all still the little girls who needed Taylor’s songs. I’m still the same little girl who cried because of my hometown bullies in my Pennsylvania small town. I’m still the preteen who didn’t yet know what love was, but so desperately wanted a great romance story. I’m still the same teenager who had her heart crushed, relying on her friends to bring over ice cream and play Taylor music as a coping mechanism. I’m still the scared college student who blasted “Welcome to New York” as I moved into my New York City dorm room.
And at the Eras Tour, I felt like was honoring my past while also celebrating my life now with Taylor.
We grew up with Taylor. The Eras Tour is indisputable proof that her fans are still listening, we’re here, and we’re going to keep growing up with her forever.
Note: Author attended East Rutherford Night 1. Photographer attended Denver Night 1.