By Sonia Calzaretta ’18
On Friday, September 18, I arrived at a Twenty One Pilots concert. The friend I was with had not told me where we going, since it was supposed to be a surprise, but she quickly realized that we were not in the right place. We were supposed to be across town, attending (although I didn’t know it then) Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour.
Eventually we got everything sorted out and found ourselves seated within spitting distance of the biggest concert stage I’ve ever seen.
The lights went down.
A fan, one blade slightly bent, rattled backstage.
And Vance Joy appeared in a blinding spotlight. Vance Joy, the award-winning Australian singer-songwriter, was opening for Taylor Swift.
His set was amazing–he’s a fantastic musician–but it was nothing compared to what came next.
The main event.
I’ve never been so awed by a concert in my life. Taylor really knows how to work a crowd. Her setlist was accentuated by pyrotechnics, acrobatics, and dance numbers so complex it was almost impossible to follow the action–almost, but not quite. Your eyes always knew where they were supposed to be looking, and where they were supposed to be looking was inevitably at Taylor Swift herself.
Her flair for the theatrical is a key component of her shows, not because her music can’t stand on its own but because it’s what people want. If all you wanted was a nice melody you could go to the orchestra. Pop stars are here to provide an extra level of excitement, complete with spotlights, fireworks, and fifteen thousand people all screaming in unison.
Over the course of the show Taylor had at least six costume changes that I can remember, everything from a tight black outfit for “Bad Blood” to a sparkling pink dress for “Shake It Off.” Her entourage of backup dancers had just as many; I saw those ten men go from white suits to shirtless between songs. At one point they had Heelys on and were wheeling along the catwalk with such practiced ease it looked like they were floating.
At another point in the show the narrow catwalk was raised off of the floor by a mechanical arm, high over the heads of the crowd, with Taylor standing on it. She picked up a guitar and asked everyone to sing with her as she took a trip down memory lane with acoustic versions of her personal classics such as “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story.”
Halfway through the concert, Taylor announced that she had a surprise. A moment later she asked the crowd to welcome Sydney Sierota of Echosmith, who had played not an hour earlier at the Twenty One Pilots concert my friend and I had arrived at accidentally.
Taylor ended the concert with the song it felt like everyone had been waiting for: her recent mega-hit, “Shake It Off.” It was perfect. The entire crowd–all fifteen thousand of us–were on our feet, dancing and jumping to the deafening sound. I left that concert utterly happy. A much younger version of myself–the version that hates the color pink and refuses to be like “the other girls”–would freak out if she knew that I’d gone to a Taylor Swift concert and enjoyed myself.
But Taylor Swift is the future, and the future is freaking gorgeous.