Surprised by the Eras Tour’s dominance? You weren’t paying attention. (2023)


11 min



LOS ANGELES — The security guards were annoyed, and the fans did not care.

“Keep it moving! Keep it moving!” the SoFi Stadium employees yelled to the hordes of sparkly dressed attendees causing mass congestion on the floor last Wednesday — Taylor Swift’s final scheduled concert in the United States this year. The source of this pileup was fans scrambling to snap photos of Adam Sandler, standing by himself in the corner of a VIP tent, dressed in basketball shorts and an Eras Tour blue crew neck sweatshirt, the most coveted Swift merchandise item.

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The excitement wasn’t so much about Sandler himself; in fact, the celebrity who would go viral in the star-studded crowd that night was supermodel Karlie Kloss, Swift’s formerly highly publicized best friend who was spotted in the regular seats. But after 53 stops on the Eras Tour, Swift devotees knew to look for the gray VIP tents if they wanted to spot someone important and post a photo to social media to add to the lore of the sold-out, Ticketmaster-breaking stadium tour, on pace to earn $1 billion and possibly become the highest-grossing tour of all time.


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Ever since the first concert in March in Glendale, Ariz., the Swifties have been studying every minute of the tour, watching livestreams on TikTok and combing through social media posts. It’s a level of devotion that comes from nearly two decades of Swift’s fan base following her every move, because she makes them feel like they really know her — and more importantly, that she really knows them. Everything Swift has built, going from a teen country songwriting prodigy to one of the biggest pop stars in history at age 33, has led to this 3½-hour celebration of her “Eras” each night. And on the last show of this year’s American leg of the tour, the fans were ready.

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They knew that when Lady Gaga’s “Applause” started playing over the stadium speakers, that meant that Swift had just crammed herself into a janitor’s cart, her chosen mode of covert transportation to the stage. They knew to yell special chants during specific songs (“1, 2, 3, let’s go b----!” during “Delicate”; “You forgive, you forget, but you never let it go!” during “Bad Blood”). They knew to hold up their hands in the shape of a heart for “Fearless.” They knew that as Swift sang “The 1,” she would change one note from the recorded version, and they knew they should cheer when that happened. They knew the odds of her performing certain hits during her “surprise song” acoustic set, because they have kept track of past performances in detailed, color-coded spreadsheets.

“Is there anyone here who put a lot of work, thought and preparation into lyric memorization and/or what you were going to wear?” Swift asked the 70,000-plus fans in the stadium as she sat at a piano. The response was deafening screams from those who had gone above and beyond with costumes, trying to be more creative than what they already saw on TikTok: Matching headbands that read “Sunset” and “Vine,” a reference to street names in the song “Gorgeous”; someone dressed in poster board as a Tennessee boating license, a nod to Swift’s murder ballad collaboration with Haim, “No Body, No Crime.”


“You look cute and you look well-studied,” Swift said approvingly, and noted that she writes very “wordy” songs. “That’s my process, right? I go through something in life. I feel extreme feelings about it. I think I might be the only person to have felt that way. I write a song about it, it goes out into the world, you shout the lyrics back at my face — I don’t feel alone anymore.”

She broke into the opening notes for “Champagne Problems,” about a woman who turns down a marriage proposal. Afterward, the Swifties knew what to do. The break after the ballad was the point in the show to deliver a screaming standing ovation — and they did, for nearly eight minutes. Swift beamed back at them.

Though the Eras Tour picks up again in Mexico City at the end of August to kick off the international run, this weekend will be the first time in months that Swift will not arrive in a major U.S. city — which will be sad for local officials, who have been eager to outdo each other to welcome the pop megastar by renaming their cities (Swift City; Swiftsburgh), radio stations (Swift-FM; Ninety-Swift-Five) and streets (Taylor Swift Way). Nashville installed a special bench in Centennial Park, which Swift sings about in the track “Invisible String”; Santa Clara, Calif., declared her its honorary mayor. The end of this leg of the U.S. tour is also a drag for local economies, which saw boosts of tens of millions of dollars each time the Eras Tour set up shop.


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Recently, a common question (on social media and to this reporter, in real life) has been some variation of: How, exactly, did we get here? How, in the year 2022, was she able to sell a million physical copies of her album “Midnights”? How does every single concert date make news? As one widely circulated tweet the day after the final L.A. show asked, “What happened like four years ago that made Taylor Swift go from relatively big pop star to having the most rabidly insane fanbase on Earth almost entirely overnight?”

Even though Swift has been selling out stadiums for a decade, the theories are plentiful: “Folklore” and “Evermore,” her indie-folk albums released during the early pandemic in 2020, introduced her to a new audience and finally made some critics — unimpressed by country and pop hits — take her songwriting seriously. (“I feel really grateful for you guys for letting me experiment with different types of music,” Swift told the audience on Wednesday.) The explosion of TikTok is also a factor, as was her decision to rerecord her first six records after a dispute with her former Nashville record label led to updated “Taylor’s Version” albums with new and expanded songs that have caused a spike in popularity of her earlier work.

But mostly, it all comes down to math — and if you haven’t noticed how her fan base has been expanding through the generations, you haven’t been paying attention. When Swift launched her career around 2006, talking with fans on Myspace and inviting them to her house like they were her real friends, she created a bond for life. Then, she jumped from country to pop stardom in 2014 with “1989.”


Now, many of the original listeners have their own kids, who also listen to her music. Throw in the new listeners who relate deeply to her lyrics about relationships, insecurities, friendship, and every other topic that our culture often deems frivolous, and the numbers keep multiplying with no sign of slowing down. And in staging the show in “eras,” older fans are going on a nostalgic journey of their own as they relive her music, sometimes resulting in being so overcome that they suffer post-concert amnesia. Not to mention that the tour is serving as an emotional release after the pandemic isolation.

“I think she has a song for everything I’ve ever felt in my entire life,” said Megan Lemmon, 24, who was at the L.A. show with her 22-year-old sister. “To see her sing all of her songs for all of her eras, it just means so much to us.”

“I’ve loved Taylor Swift ever since her very first album,” said Elise Bryant, 34, who attended the concert with her daughters, ages 11 and 7. “And so to be able to share it with my kids and see them fall in love with her, too, has been really special.”


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“I think it goes across age and that’s what I love about her,” said Ann Cahill, who declined to give her age, as she raved about Swift with her 26-year-old daughter, who called her the “songwriter of the century.” “Everybody can relate to her songs. … I’m moved to tears as I talk about her, but it’s very true.”

Even at the height of her popularity, Swift casually chatted with the SoFi Stadium crowd like they were all in this together, bringing a seeming authenticity that is one of her superpowers; she used the words “we” and “our,” and repeatedly reminded the fans that this is all because of them. At one point, she brought up the fact that before 2023, she hadn’t toured in five years.

“I thought to myself, ‘How can I keep our connection going?’ So I decided to make and release as many albums as humanly possible,” Swift said as the crowd screamed, and she name-checked her four albums that were released since 2019. “People around me were saying like … ‘What are you going to do, like, do a tour where you just play all the music, and it’s just 3½ hours long?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, well, that’s exactly what I’m doing. It’s called the Eras Tour.'”

For years, Swift has spoken out about her tendency to let critics dictate her choices. (“I wouldn’t marry me either, a pathological people pleaser,” she sings on a new track, “You’re Losing Me.”) But on the Eras Tour, she has seemed more confident than ever — a swagger that only grew over the months and as she continued to spend night after night with 70,000-plus people screaming their adoration.


Her only backlash arrived in May (shortly after she split from her boyfriend of six years, British actor Joe Alwyn) when she was romantically linked to Matty Healy, lead singer of English pop band the 1975, who has been criticized for offensive comments. And things really blew up that month when Swift released a remix of her song “Karma” with rapper Ice Spice, inviting her onstage to perform in New Jersey — a few months after Healy appeared on a podcast and laughed and agreed when the hosts made racist comments about the rapper. Healy later apologized and said he was joking and his remarks were “misconstrued.”

Fans intensely debated if they should be disappointed in their idol for dating someone so controversial. But in June, the tabloids reported it was abruptly over, and the episode was suddenly buried in the avalanche of headlines that emerged from every tour date. The fans at the Los Angeles show had little to say about Swift’s love life, mostly agreeing that if the singer was happy, they were happy.

Many fans have now reached the stage where Swift can do no wrong — they feel that no one understands them quite like she does, and no one understands her quite like they do. Years ago, Swift used to receive criticism over her “surprised face,” when people rolled their eyes when she acted shocked to win yet another trophy at an award show. Swift frequently appears taken aback in concert — the volume of screaming during her entrance, the epic standing ovations, the explosive reaction when she announced at the final L.A. show that her next rerecorded album will be “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” coming in October — but the snark is largely gone. To her followers, she’s genuinely overwhelmed, and that makes them only want to continue to prove their devotion.


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But even if Swift is exaggerating her reactions, there’s an undercurrent of true appreciation. In her 2020 documentary “Miss Americana,” Swift said she’s well aware that women in the entertainment industry are typically considered irrelevant when they hit their mid-30s, and delivered the stinging quote that she hoped to “work really hard while society is still tolerating me being successful.” So as she gazed in awe into the sea of sparkles, it was hard not to believe she’s also somewhat shocked by the response to this record-shattering tour.

“I figured it would be fun, but I did not know it would be like this,” she told the crowd, shaking her head. “I just didn’t.”

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How long is Taylor Swift eras tour? ›

On dates where Taylor performs the full Eras Tour setlist, the concert is 3 hours and 15 minutes long.

Where can I watch Taylor Swift eras tour? ›

Instead, Hulu will be showing music videos from the various “eras” of Taylor Swift's music career. The show's description reveals all, saying: “Get excited for Taylor Swift's stadium tour with hits from all her eras.”

What age group is Taylor Swift concert goers? ›

Some 45% of avid fans are millennials, people between the ages of 27 and 42, while 23% are baby boomers, 21% are Gen Xers and just 11% are members of Gen Z—those 26 and under. A slim majority, 55%, of avid Swift fans are Democrats, compared to 23% who are politically independent and 23% who are Republicans.

How early to get to Taylor Swift concert? ›

When should you get to the stadium? Both concerts are scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m. with openers HAIM and Gracie Abrams. Stadium gates will open at 4:30 p.m. Swift's shows last more than three hours, with a fluctuating setlist that typically lands around a whopping 44 songs.

Why is The Eras Tour such a big deal? ›

Pollstar reported recently that, by estimates, the Eras Tour will be the first tour to cross the billion-dollar mark in grosses (Elton John's multi-year farewell tour holds the current record, with $939 million), and that this $1B milestone will likely be reached some time in March, when she is over in Asia.

How much do Taylor Swift backup dancers make? ›

Their annual wage ranges from $30,000 to $45,000. Based on the profile of the dancers in this list, we can tell Taylor Swift's backup dancer salary will be more than the average rate.

How much is Taylor Swift getting from ERAS tour? ›

Taylor Swift's era-defining “Eras” tour is flying like a jet stream, high above the music scene — by billions of dollars. The tour could gross $2.2 billion in North American ticket sales alone, according to August survey data from research firm QuestionPro provided to CNN exclusively.

How much is Taylor Swift eras tour cost? ›

How much are Taylor Swift tickets to The Eras Tour? In the United States, face value tickets to Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour ranged from $49 to $499 (plus fees) depending on the section. Resale prices to Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour, however, were more expensive.

How many shows does Taylor Swift have for eras tour? ›

The Eras Tour is the ongoing sixth concert tour by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, who described it as a journey through all of her musical "eras". A homage to her albums, the Eras Tour is her most expansive tour yet, with 146 shows across five continents.

What was the highest crowd in the world Taylor Swift concert? ›

According to Swift's team, 72,171 fans were in the house Saturday. From the opening segment of Swift's Eras Tour, for which there was an almost unprecedented amount of anticipation, Swift came ready to shoot-to-kill-you-with-a-look, as the stadium exploded with the strike of every pose or lick of her bright red lips.

What was Taylor Swift's most crowded concert? ›

The massive crowd at Pittsburgh's Acrisure Stadium Saturday night broke an all-time attendance record. "Tonight's attendance of 73,117 at Acrisure Stadium for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour is the largest ever in stadium history," the venue tweeted.

What was the largest audience for a Taylor Swift concert? ›

The “Karma” singer broke an attendance record at Pittsburgh's Acrisure Stadium when 73,117 Swifites flocked to the concert on Saturday, according to the venue.

Can a 15 year old go to a Taylor Swift concert? ›


This is a licensed, loud music event, staged over a long time and we do not recommend attendance by children aged 5 years and under. Children 14 and under must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all times and have purchased a valid ticket.

Why are Taylor Swift tickets so expensive? ›

Taylor's Era Tour Tickets Are Exorbitantly Expensive

Many pointed out that due to the number of fans Taylor has and the capacity of the venues that she tours in, even with the largest venues, there is way too much demand for tickets and that is why they can sell out completely, even just in the pre-sale.

Can you meet Taylor Swift after a concert? ›

Taylor has been known to handpick devoted fans from the audience to hang out with her backstage after her concert. These are referred to as T-Parties. To stand out at her concerts, create posters, design t-shirts, and coordinate colorful outfits with your friends.

How long is Taylor Swift Eras Tour setlist? ›

The average Taylor Swift concert is around 2 hours long but The Eras Tour is a whole different beast... The opening show in Glendale was a whopping 3 hours and 15 minutes long, and Taylor performed a huge 44 tracks within that timeframe. Not all the tracks are performed in full, though – some are shortened versions.

How long is Taylor Swift tour 2023? ›

Taylor Swift's 2023 "The Eras Tour" is scheduled to begin on March 17, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona, and concludes on August 9, 2023, in Inglewood, California. After the pandemic, the American singing sensation Taylor Swift returned with her sixth headlining concert tour "The Eras Tour" with recent and previous albums.

How much is Taylor Swift Eras Tour cost? ›

How much are Taylor Swift tickets to The Eras Tour? In the United States, face value tickets to Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour ranged from $49 to $499 (plus fees) depending on the section. Resale prices to Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour, however, were more expensive.

How long does it take to set up Taylor Swift stage? ›

According to the New York Post, Swift's trucks begin the transportation process more than a week before each show and that the whole operation takes around two to three weeks to complete.


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