In 2023, Taylor Swift played in Tampa for 3 nights straight. It was a big deal for Tampa, and so many people were talking about the concert. I can say for sure, the show on Saturday, April 15th, 2023 did not disappoint. It was such an important show for me and so many other fans.
On this date in history, I did something… not for me. I am agoraphobic to a small degree at this point in my life, exacerbated by Covid. My love for my wife made going a non-negotiable, but I had to be persuaded to go and I was not a happy camper. The lead up to the concert was me filled with anxiety.
Many years ago, I didn’t find Swift’s music interesting enough, writing it off as derivative pop-music. However, I have always liked pop music, Madonna, Cher, Stevie Nicks, Rebecca Black even. At the time of the concert, I was already into Swift too, having quite enjoyed her Miss Americana (2020) film. It is definitely worth a watch, if you haven’t seen it.
It was strange for me growing up to love someone like Madonna while some of the time writing off certain pop-music, because it’s not underground, experimental, or cool enough.
Fast forward selector, we drove, parked, then walked for a half an hour from International Mall to Raymond James Stadium to see “Mother”. As our proximity drew closer, we saw people totally pumped and blissful looking, mostly girls and women. The stadium was filled to the brim with people comprised of Eras outfits, mind boggling lines for overpriced drinks, and thousands and thousands of genuinely happy looking people. “Karma is a cat” shirts everywhere!
We arrived at our seats, way up in the clouds. My nose began to bleed, metaphorically speaking. As I eagerly waited for Taylor to grace our presence, I smiled at my family on occasion, glaring at the stage nervously. When the opening song graced my half working ear drums, Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince, I recognized it immediately and even could sing parts of the chorus, thanks to the exposure from my wife.
Song after song, even the few I had found annoying in the past, made my happier and happier. The energy from nearly 80,000 singing fans having their dreams lifted made my heart glow. Seeing my wife and my sister enjoy the experience made me even happier. By the time she arrived at my then favorite Swift album, Evermore, I was convinced she was a witch, or at least dabbled in the dark arts. We were all under her spell and I was mesmerized.
She played for 3 hours straight, seemingly without breaks, crushing every tune. The concrete structure bounced with the beat, giving me intrusive thoughts about the stadium collapsing. I guess I’m not allowed to have 100% fun.
It was a wildly entertaining concert. The next day, I proudly showed my wife that I now had ALL of the Taylor Swift albums. My wife and I sing karaoke together at our house on occasion. I now sing Swift songs, too! I even recently sang one for my coworkers, much to their dismay, perhaps?
I kept thinking about the concert, and what it really meant. I have always been an ally of females, but this concert changed me. As someone who has always struggled with not feeling cool, or extremely self conscious, I felt accepted and safe in this place.
The collective “we” crucify pop stars, putting their entire lives under a spotlight, commenting on their weight and body, critiquing their every relationship change, all the while waiting for their potential collapse or, falling into sort of weird conformity. Sure, the media and morbidly curious love a good tragedy regardless of gender, but woman historically have been treated much more poorly on so many levels. They still are as well across the globe today.
This concert made me want to be even more protective of women in general. Swift’s vibe of women empowerment and wanting to be on the right side of history makes me look up to her. She’s vocally against police brutality, LGBTQ+ discrimination, white supremacy, and racism.
She is a great role model to so many girls and women, and I’m proud to say I’m a fan. If you aren’t, YOU should be all those things, too. We should feel safe to stand up to injustices, bullying, and even the less important, but still on theme, pressure of not being “hipster” enough.