My first introduction to Taylor Swift was inevitable; as a sixteen year old overly emotional girl living in the Bible Belt of Georgia, how would I not find myself pining over three-week old relationships while crying to “Teardrops on My Guitar.” I probably even picked up my guitar and strummed along, because she got me. Despite being a rock lover, my grandfather raised me on old-school bluegrass, so country has thrived in my veins for just as long as the alt-grunge scene of the 90's. And when Taylor's music shifted from country, to country pop, to pop – I was with it. The genre melding of her career felt natural as I aged with the CD's. The more heartbreak and young love she sang about, the more I experienced in tandem and had music to fall back on. And now, as an independent woman finding her way in the world with no apologies, Taylor has emerged a queen, setting the soundtrack of our timeline in the fiercest way possible – with Reputation.
The Reputation Stadium Tour is so much more than a concert. Young girls, moms, teens, and families pack in line hours before doors, most donned in some of the most elaborate Taylor themed costumes you can imagine, just to see everything the tour has to experience. Thrones from her music videos, outfits from performances, Taylor trivia and karaoke are just some of the preshow museum style set ups through the Miami Hard Rock Stadium. Upon entering each guest was gifted a white bracelet, or “a gift from Taylor” (so cute) as they were presented to us. Despite it being a Saturday night in Miami, Dade was on it's best behavior and headed to their seats early to catch Charli XCX. After some technical difficulties pushing the start of the show back slightly, Charli XCX emerged from below the stage and kicked into an onslaught of her popular hits like “Boom Clap” and “I Love It.” Miami's own star Camila Cabello took the stage next. "My hair is 80 percent humidity, and my blood is 80 percent croquetas," she gushed delightfully as she danced around the stage. You could tell Cabello was enamored with the crowd just as much as they are with her as they sang along to her mega-hits “Never Be the Same” and “Havana.”
Joan Jett's “Bad Reputation” kicked in and the Swifties erupted into cheers against the setting sun as Queen Taylor's time had come. The bass-pounding electronic opening track off Reputation, “...Ready For It?” boomed throughout the stadium as smoke flares shot from the stage. I can tell you, I was not ready for it, the fans were not ready for it, we were not ready for it. Taylor danced her way around the stage, followed instep by her dancers, in a glittering hooded black bodysuit. Red Taylor who? 1989 what? Fireworks followed during “I Did Something Bad” as Swift crooned “I never trust a narcissist / But they love me / So I play 'em like a violin” as her dancers spun her around as she was seated atop them. Taylor closed out Act I of the night with a medley of older fan favorites – “Style,” “Love Story,” and “You Belong With Me.”
A giant cobra rose up out of the floor, flanked by a series of smaller yet still imposing snakes, taunting and chasing Taylor across the stage as she performs “Look What You Made Me Do” donned in a black and gold boxer robe. Oh, you didn't know about the snakes? Well see, someone called Taylor a snake on social media a while back, which exploded into a barrage of emojis and comments aimed in her direction. But she's flipped the script and embraced the imagery, with her fans dubbing the pit in front of the stage the Snake Pit, and snake jewelry decorating her both in videos and on stage. Bringing the lights down, Taylor addressed her adoring audience about how her music has always been about emotions and experiences you go through. “You guys are singing these words at the top of your lungs, I'm singing these words into a microphone, and it's really great that you guys are here, and have always been here for the most delicate emotions,” she finishes with a smirk before kicking into Reputation's “Delicate.” During the song Taylor stepped into a gleaming gondola that took her high above the audience, landing at the secondary stage in the crowd; there were some serious Tinkerbell Main Street Electrical Parade vibes going on.
More snakes, this time following Taylor to the B-Stage and towering over as Charli XCX and Camila Cabello returned to perform “Shake It Off.” It was at this time that crowd's bracelets (gift from Taylor!) really shined as they twinkled to the beat flashing different colors like mini-fireworks. Oh and then there was the real fireworks, of course. The crowd stared in awe as the light display bursts overhead of the stadium and confetti rained down continuously.
Despite the mega-production of The Reputation Stadium Tour, personally I think the highlight of the night came about midway, when Taylor stood solo on the stage, with her guitar and transported the crowd back to her early acoustic routes. Taylor has been using the eleventh song as a wild card, with each city hearing their own personal tune for the tour. For Miami, we were treated to potentially the only live performance (she's 99% positive) of “Breathe” from 2008's Fearless. And while the fireworks and the fountains and the outfit changes are mesmerizing, there is something so relatable and so spectacular about watching Taylor return to her roots and sing heart-to-heart to her fans.
Speaking of the fans, Taylor traversed her way through the crowd to hang out on the secondary B-stage, but made sure to stop and say hi to all of her friends on the way. There's something pretty great about not only seeing a pop icon connect with her fans, but watching it happen and believing that the emotions are genuine is something Taylor excels at – she has an honest and organic relationships with her fanbase. 1989 shined during Act IV, with “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood,” during which Taylor returned to the main stage riding a snake throne and finished the act with “Should've Said No” from her debut album.
Flames shot from the stage during “Don't Blame Me” as futuristic Tron clad breakdancers flipped around the stage. But the lights dimmed once again and we found Taylor center stage at her piano, wiping definite-sweat-but-possible-tears away with her hair. "I learned a really important lesson that I've been telling you from the stage for about ten years, but I never had to learn it so harshly myself and that lesson has to do with how much you value your reputation. And I think that the lesson is that you shouldn't care so much if you feel misunderstood by a lot of people who don't know you, as long as you feel understood by the people who do know you, the people who do show up for you, and the people who see you as a human being. So thank you for getting to know me, for sticking up for me, for seeing me as a human being.” I cried, the lady next to me cried, the guy three rows down cried, there was a bonafide-cryfest occurring at a Taylor Swift concert in Miami. As if we weren’t emotional enough already, Taylor launched into a heart wrenching mash of “Long Live” and “New Years Day” that had the entire stadium singing along captivated by the melody.
The final act of the night began with a video montage of Taylor in the wilderness of the American West. Canyons and deserts sprawled along as “Getaway Car” began. “Getaway Car” may just be my favorite song off of Reputation, and its live counterpart is just as enthralling. The night ended in a full blown party on stage with “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” intertwined with just a tinge of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and over 60,000 screaming fans.
"And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive" read emblazoned on the screen as the music faded and the stage lights came down. Since the show I’ve learned that Taylor Swift is only the second woman to have sold out the Hard Rock Stadium, the first being Madonna in 2008. This unapologetic Taylor is the fiercest Taylor we’ve seen, but she still exudes sincerity when it comes to her fans, and puts on one hell of a show.
Act I ...Ready for It? / I Did Something Bad / Gorgeous / Style - Love Story - You Belong With Me
Act II Look What You Made Me Do / End Game / King of My Heart
Act III Delicate / Shake It Off (with Charli XCX and Camila Cabello) / Dancing With Our Hands Tied / Breathe
Act IV Blank Space / Dress / Bad Blood / Should've Said No
Act V Don't Blame Me / Long Live - New Year's Day
Act VI Getaway Car / Call It What You Want / We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together - This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things