Column: Preparing for THE Concert (Taylor’s Version)

This weekend, Taylor Swift will arrive at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh.

I’ll be there too – for the Saturday night concert, in section 113. Even if I’m just a speck in the crowd, I will be scream-singing my heart out.

It will be the second concert of the superstar’s two-night stand in Pittsburgh, and part of her 2023 tour, which shattered records for sales and ticket demand.

Let me give some of my Swiftie credentials. I’ve been a fan for years – probably ever since I heard “You Belong with Me” on the radio and then went home and watched the music video about 50 times. My best friend at the time accused me of singing it in my sleep.

Since then, I was hooked, and so were many others. This was the “Fearless” album era with iconic bops such as, “Love Story,” “The Other Side of the Door” and “The Way I Loved You.” It was only her second studio album, but it became the most awarded country album of all time and established her as a successful cross-genre artist.

Her fame – and my love for her music – only grew as the years went by and she released more and more albums. Each album dips into different genres of music with a completely different aesthetic and style, which is why Swifties call her different albums “eras.”

When Swift dropped “Folklore” by surprise in summer 2020, with no prior fanfare or announcement, her fan base somehow got even bigger. “Folklore” was a completely different sound from her other albums with its dip into indie folk and chamber pop. Her storytelling was a welcomed distraction from the pandemic-dominated disaster that was 2020.

Shortly after “Folklore’s” release, the Swiftie community was blessed with the sister album “Evermore,” plus the re-recordings of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

Then came her most recent album, “Midnights,” which practically broke the internet, along with multiple streaming, chart and sales records.

Swift is a 12-time Grammy Award winner with three Album of the Year awards, which ties her for the most of any artist. She has the most American Music Awards in history and the most Billboard Music Awards for a female artist. She also has an Emmy Award.

In the wise words of Barbara Walters, “Taylor Swift is the music industry.”

The ‘Eras Tour’

Her current “Eras Tour” is the largest and longest stadium tour in U.S. history, surpassing the previous record – which she set. Each concert is about three hours long with a setlist of 44 songs and 10 distinct acts. Each act takes you through her different album eras, with more time dedicated to the albums she hasn’t previously toured – “Lover,” “Folklore,” “Evermore” and “Midnights.”

Since this is an “Eras Tour,” almost every album has a song on the setlist. Each night of the tour, Taylor picks two random songs from her discography to play acoustically, giving fans a chance to hear their favorites that aren’t on the set list.

It’s almost a ritual at this point to try and guess which songs will be played each night. Many of my favorites have been played already, but there are still plenty left.

The demand for Swift and this tour is unprecedented. Everyone heard about the Ticketmaster debacle. There was a ton of backlash from Swifties for not getting tickets, being forced to pay insane prices or not getting “fan verified” for the sale. The outrage caused the U.S. Justice Department to open an antitrust investigation into Ticketmaster – Swift and her fan base are that influential.

Getting Prepared

However, our job wasn’t done. After the ticket scare, the focus shifted toward the fun of preparation. Swifties decided to wear attire that fit their favorite album aesthetic, costumes inspired by songs or lyrics, or Taylor’s iconic looks from previous performances.

My favorite album is “Evermore.” My favorite era is “Reputation.” My favorite song is … well I don’t think I could ever pick just one song. So this was the toughest part.

My outfit planning took weeks. It was a ton of Googling previous outfits, looking at aesthetic Pinterest boards and watching TikTok videos of homemade outfits. Everyone was so creative. Someone even made a costume of a crumpled  piece of paper, which was inspired by the lyrics from “All Too Well.” Coordinating with my friends took up even more time; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we all want it to be perfect.

I finally pinned down my costume not too long ago. I’m going with the “Lover” aesthetic, which means bright colors, pastel pinks and hearts. The friend I’m going to the concert with is copying the “You Belong with Me” outfit in the music video. Another friend is emulating the “Speak Now” era.

Next in the preparations came the making of friendship bracelets. Inspired by lyrics from “You’re on Your Own Kid,” my friend and I spent a whole night creating bracelets we can share with other Swifties. It’s a ritual of a Swift concert, and it’s guaranteed we will come home with plenty from the friends we make there.

Tickets, outfits, bracelets, friends and a plan to spend all of Saturday in Pittsburgh to celebrate the concert – I’m finally ready to see Taylor Swift live.

I’ve stayed away from most videos and livestreams of earlier concerts to make my night that much more special. However, I couldn’t help myself when it came to her playing surprise songs and bringing out special guests – that was going to be different every night and has only built up my anticipation.

Fingers crossed she plays “Right Where You Left Me” from the “Evermore” album, or “Daylight” from “Lover” as the surprise songs.

Taylor Swift performs earlier this year. She will be at Pittsburgh’s Acrisure Stadium for shows Friday and Saturday. (Associated Press)

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