Welcome to New Jersey, we’ve been waiting for you!
Taylor Swift brought her catalog-spanning, marathon-long concert to MetLife Stadium on Friday to kick off the three-night Garden State leg of the Eras Tour.
The highly anticipated East Rutherford dates set the midpoint of the summer-long walk, which includes 52 major dates.
Lucky enough to have sold-out tickets, the Swifties landed at the stadium in the early afternoon—usually home to both the New York Jets and New York Giants. The parking lot was filled with Thai-gaters wearing themed outfits ranging from ball gowns to pink fringed cowboy hats and boots, leather catsuits and snakeskin shirts and everything in between.
Celebrities are also popping up in record numbers, as Swift is known for her tight-knit cast of girls.
The opening acts took the stage as the stadium opened up to fans who wanted to see the lead superstar.
The first was Gayle, who made a name for herself with the viral TikTok song “ABCDEFU”. She made up for the lack of time on set with noise and energy. The 18-year-old’s excitement was contagious as he danced on stage with his leather and orange guitar.
Phoebe Bridgers was next, and she did it in her signature flamboyant skeleton dress with the unmistakable opening riff of Disturbed’s “Down With the Sickness”.
The indie-rock singer, who later joined Swift on stage to perform her duet “Nothing New (From the Vault)”, used her set to get the crowd on a train of emotions.
The 28-year-old Bridgers brought his signature melodic melancholy to the masses, until he reached the climax with a growing cry to close his last track, “I Know the End.” Known fans took the sound to deafening heights, joining in on the adjoining closing cry, his hallmark of exorcism.
The energy of the stadium on the way to Swift’s set can only be described as electricity. Fans from all walks of life became restless and excited when the “Applause,” symbolizing the woman of the day Lady Gaga will soon take the stage, began. Concert-goers of all ages (and eras) exchanged traditional Swift-themed friendship bracelets from a newly discovered fan project inspired by one of Swift’s new songs, “You’re Own Own, Kid.”
Then, as Lesley Gore’s song “You Don’t Own Me” filled the air, a giant clock appeared on the stage’s gigantic screen and huge applause erupted from the crowd.
As the countdown hit zero, Swift’s backup dancers appeared carrying huge, floating fabric fans in dreamy watercolor hues and descended the runway, eventually recording “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” and “Cruel Summer” from her 2019 album “Lover.”
Fans were delighted to see Swift making headlines with multiple Eras Tour outfit variations and strutting around the stage in a brand new bodysuit for the “Lover” era. The never-before-seen look paired navy blue tassels dangling around her calves with her signature knee-high boots.
This wasn’t the only new look to hit the stage at East Rutherford; The artist also unveiled a new ball gown for the “Speak Now” era and a sparkling deep rust-coloured dress for the “Evermore” performance.
The princess of pop is no stranger to the stage and she shows up in every moment of her performance. Every note is perfect, every movement is on point, every part of the stadium has been paid attention to. Even Swift’s speeches between songs are rehearsed and hidden from night to night.
In a poignant moment during “Marjorie,” Swifties all over the country raise their cell phone flashlights in memory of Swift’s deceased grandmother. Swift takes a moment each night to comment on the “magical telepathic connection” among the crowd – although in reality it’s just a “fan project” that got caught and stuck.
Still, Swift’s bond with and loyalty to her fans is undeniable.
In the “Evermore” episode of the show, the performer, who received a particularly long applause from the crowd, said, “You’ll get an award for that later!” he implied a surprise.
Swifties are no stranger to surprises, of course. In fact, Eras Tour has a whole section dedicated to just that: surprise songs. Just before he delves into the “Midnight” episode of his show, Swift presents fans with an ever-changing two-song acoustic set.
On this special night, he muscled the runway with all his backup dancers in tow and announced that there was a dance party. A lot a truly special surprise: the “Karma” premiere of the Ice Spice featured music video before its worldwide release at midnight. The entire stadium fell silent as the video played, bringing a touch of intimacy to one of the largest crowds MetLife Stadium has ever seen, with over 72,000 people.
In that moment, Swift did something everyone in the stadium had done countless times before—sitting on the floor with her friends and watching a Taylor Swift music video.
Following the premiere, Swift commissioned fans one of the most iconic surprise song combinations the tour has ever seen.
Longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff took the stage to voice “Getaway Car” from “Reputation” in 2017.
He then sat down at his doodle-covered piano and began playing “Maroon”, one of his fans’ latest songs.
But the surprises did not end there. Halfway through the final song of the concert, “Karma,” Swift revealed that she had one final number on her hands. She stopped right after the first line to address the audience and asked if they were “ready to make the most noise” they had been making all night.
He later revealed that he had another visitor: “We’re going to treat this like his hometown show. Are you ready, Jersey? Ice Spice is here!”
The 23-year-old rapper stood up from the middle of the podium and sang a new line from the hit song as he walked backstage to Swift. The couple held hands as fireworks exploded around the stadium, and the balls fired 10 different-colored confetti from the air – for their ten album.
During the nearly four-hour set, Swift took a tour of her music history, pausing to dive deeper into some periods than others.
He spent most of his time contemplating 2020’s “Folklore” and 2023’s “Midnights”, rendered in seven songs and a lyric poetry version of “Seven”.
However, their previous albums were not so lucky; “Taylor Swift” from her 2006 debut album is nowhere permanently on her 45-song set list.
Fans theorized that this notable shortcoming could be attributed to current copyright issues surrounding the unauthorized sale of Swift’s masters.
This also explains why only one song is on the set list of fan-favorite “Speak Now”: “Enchanted”, which Swift sings as she walks the runway in bridal-like ball gowns.
The re-recording of Swift’s 2010 album was recently announced during the tour’s break in Nashville.
Still, the Eras Tour experience remains a fairy tale of any fan’s wildest dreams.
It seems that Swift has managed to figure out how to keep decades-old albums fresh while also ensuring that both old fans and newcomers have something to connect with during the set.
Anyone lucky enough to attend a show can be sure to leave feeling like they’ve had the “Best Day” with Taylor Swift.