MIA FREEDMAN: 'What the Taylor concert was really like.'

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Very occasionally, you have an experience so unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, that you’re not quite sure how to process it let alone how to talk about it. The pandemic was that. Still processing? Don’t want to talk about it? Same.

Taylor Swift though, well, I’m damn going to try.

This is not a review. Nor is it an exercise in persuasion or even evangelism. I’m sure you’ve already formed a view on Taylor, her music and her total dominance of global culture in this moment and nothing I say is likely to change that. You do you, Boo.

What I want to tell you about is the very specific, unique experience of attending a Taylor Swift concert. Not just any Taylor concert because I’ve been to two of those before, in 2015 and 2018. I had a marvellous time, but they were both in an earlier era of Taylor, when loving her music made you part of a sub-culture. The predictable thing to say about that is that loving Taylor back then means you’re somehow superior to those who discovered her more recently but Taylor herself insists that whether you’ve listened to her music for 15 years or 15 minutes, you’re welcome to sit with her and she’s grateful for your company.

Remember that sentiment. It holds the key to understanding a lot.

So, to the concert. Let’s not talk about how hard it was to get tickets or how much they cost or what cities she isn’t performing in because I understand all of those wounds have left scars that are ginger to touch.


Watch: A Swiftie dad. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Instead, I want to tell you about what it was like to be there. I want to tell you about walking out of our hotel on Saturday afternoon and not needing to check Google Maps for directions to the stadium because we simply followed the sequins.

Oh, so many sequins. As the mother of an 18-year-old and attending our third Taylor concert together (the first in Melbourne when she was 10 and already a Swifty much to the disdain of her school friends), I was conscious of not looking like I was trying too hard.

I know, right? I am someone who wears sequins to work on a Monday and have done so for most of my adult life. But I am deeply practical when it comes to concert outfits. I need to be comfortable and warm but not hot. I am a delicate flower whose equilibrium is easily thrown by being outdoors in large crowds while standing up for long periods of time.

Also, the pressure to dress as a certain 'era' confused me. Were you meant to dress like the era of the Taylor album you liked the most or the era that most embodies you as a person? What era am I in currently? I think my Reputation era but am I, really?

The tickets were hard enough to get; I began to resent the mental load of finding the right coded outfit. My daughter helped by telling me to stop overthinking it while also encouraging me to dress up. She insisted I would have more fun if I did and she was right. I would have felt like a total goose if I’d not gone all in. Like turning up to a fancy dress party in jeans and not even nice ones.


And yes, obviously I had something totally ridiculous and utterly appropriate hanging in my wardrobe but if you’re wondering what to wear, it doesn’t matter. Sequins, fringing, bright colours, sparkles glued onto your face, a wig, a signature Taylor phrase drawn onto your T-shirt…. the point is that you make an effort to enter a different world.

@cocolavigne The best day, with you, today #erastour ♬ fearless tv - tayloraudios🎧

Because the answer I keep coming back to when I’m asked what the concert was like is simply this: it was like visiting an alternate universe where everyone is happy and kind and bursting out of their skin with joy.

It’s hard to emphasise this enough. So I will just tell you about a few things that happened.

On the way to the MCG, we met a mother and her 13-year-old daughter who had driven to Melbourne from Adelaide. They didn’t have tickets. They were all dressed up and were going to just going a sit outside the stadium to be part of it. We exchanged friendship bracelets — everyone had them snaking up their arms, and they were the connective tissue of this magical planet on which 96,000 of us landed for a few hours.

I traded bracelets with some police officers, with the lady who sold me hot chips, with numerous small children and with dozens and dozens of women and girls of all ages. God it was lovely. We traded while waiting in the line for the toilets before deciding to also inhabit the men’s toilets — to which the few men agreed was entirely reasonable. We traded in our seats and while walking in and out of the stadium and while queuing for water.


The atmosphere was like... it was like the exact opposite of how the Internet is on any given day when people are screaming at one another, especially lately.

Imagine being in a massive crowd where everyone was happy and gentle and kind and everyone apologised if they accidentally bumped you or stood on your foot even the person whose foot got stood on would apologise because everyone was just so deeply, wildly thrilled to be part of this incredible experience.

At one point, when we were chatting with the people around us in our little part of the stadium, my daughter went suddenly pale because Taylor Nation, Taylor’s official fan account, had reposted the photo she had just put on her Insta stories. Clearly, I did not properly grasp the scale of this thing that happened and so I encouraged her to tell the people in the row in front of us because I knew they would get it and they did and then everyone in the vicinity lost their shit and the concert hadn’t even started yet but everyone was overjoyed that something so incredibly exciting had happened to one of us.

Image: TaylorNation.


And that’s what the whole night felt like: pure joy but also weirdly profound. For the next three and a half hours, it was like I imagine it would feel to be deeply religious but the happy kind.

Everyone was just so… free. And our hearts were so open. I sobbed uncontrollably through two songs for reasons I still don’t quite understand. Something about the collective energy of 96,000 people celebrating a woman whose music had brought them joy but also a deeper understanding of themselves through lyrics that seemed to express so many things that feel so uniquely specific and personal to us.


It felt like being in an altered state but also being so deeply understood in the most enormous crowd you’ve ever stood amongst, shoulder to shoulder, screaming and singing and dancing like nobody is watching because that’s the gift of Taylor’s music.

I think it’s because she’s not cool. Which sounds funny because how can she not be cool but I’ve seen Madonna and Beyonce and Gaga in concert and they’re cool and with coolness comes distance. Taylor runs warm. Taylor leans into being friendly and approachable and vulnerable that embodies what a Taylor Swift concert feels like.

Do not get me started on her artistry or her athleticism — 44 songs as she runs and dances along a stage that is the length of a football field and the same width again. The woman is peerless.

24 hours later, I feel a bit like I’m made of Taylor. Like I got to take home some of that magic, not just the magic of her or her music but of the community she has created and the alchemy of bringing us together in real life all over the world. It was transcendent.

Feature Image: Getty.

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