What a year it was to be a Taylor Swift fan. From the releases of Speak Now and 1989 (Taylor’s Versions) with all their vault songs, to the surprise rebirth of 2019’s “Cruel Summer,” to the October debut of the highest-grossing concert film of all time, barely a day went by in 2023 that didn’t send Swifties (and the U.S. economy) into a frenzy. And, of course, at the heart of it all, was the Eras Tour — Swift’s three-and-a-half-hour-long, 66-show-and-counting magnum opus, in which the musician performed dozens of songs from her decades-spanning career.
But as anyone who attended a show or watched one unfold via the film (or a blurry TikTok feed) knows, the allure of the Eras Tour isn’t just about the music that Swift performs. Whether it’s the fun of watching her ad-lib lines and mess up lyrics, the anticipation of wondering which surprise songs will make the cut, the awe of seeing 70,000-plus LED bracelets light up, or simply the thrill of watching a superstar in her prime command the biggest stage of her career, Eras is an experience like no other.
And while the concerts are far from over (Swift returns in February, with Tokyo), there have already been enough memorable moments to cement Eras as one of the most iconic tours of all time. Here are some of the biggest.
Everything That Happened Opening Night
March 17, Glendale, Arizona
Going into the first night of the tour, no one had any idea what to expect. Would Swift perform only her biggest radio hits, skipping over quieter tunes from Folklore and Evermore? Would she address the Ticketmaster fiasco, or bring out celebrity guests, or answer all our still-burning questions about Midnights? As it turned out, nothing could’ve prepared us for the reality of Eras. The 44-song setlist! The “underwater” “dive”! The pre–“Cruel Summer” bridge announcement and “Vigilante Shit” chair dance! Every moment of the show was a surprise and delight, made even more impressive by the knowledge that Swift would repeat it dozens more times.
First Post-Breakup Performance
April 13, Tampa, Florida
Swift’s split from longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn in early April shocked fans, and many wondered if she’d address the breakup during the first show after the news was revealed. While the star unsurprisingly didn’t mention it directly, she did swap “Invisible String” (a love song widely assumed to be about Alwyn) for the depressing heartbreaker “The 1”. She’d made the switch once before, at the March 31 show, but the seemingly permanent change seemed to send a clear message about her relationship status.
May 5, Nashville
Some called it sweet, others called it invasive, but however you felt, there’s no denying that the fan project to hold up photos of Swift’s late grandmother during a Nashville rendition of “Marjorie” garnered quite a reaction. The evidently emotional singer took a moment to acknowledge the signs, telling the audience that she found them “meaningful and so special” and noting that her mom, Andrea, was likely “bawling” as a result.
Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) Announcement
May 5, Nashville
We knew it was coming. There’d been hints for months. And yet when Swift announced the release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) in Nashville, the reaction was nothing but total (ecstatic) chaos. As the album cover and release date appeared on the giant screen behind the star, fans screamed and sobbed, an overwhelming response that was repeated, three months later, when Swift announced the impending release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version).
Nashville’s Rain Delay
May 7, Nashville
Like many artists, Swift is no stranger to a rain show. But the final night of Eras’ Nashville leg this spring took things to another level. After delaying the show several hours due to lightning, Swift got onstage at 10 p.m. and proceeded to get absolutely drenched with rain. She took the unfortunate weather in stride, though, telling the equally soaked audience that the night was a “bonding experience” and that they all looked like “river otters.”
Matty Healy Shows Up
May 12, Philadelphia
While Swift may be in honeymoon bliss with Travis Kelce these days, there was a terrifying period of time over the summer when she was linked to controversial singer Matty Healy instead. As fans unhappy with Healy’s frequently problematic behavior (which included making racist remarks about rapper Ice Spice, among many other incidents) held out hope that the rumors weren’t true, the musician showed up at Swift’s May 12 show — and then again at two more nights of the Philadelphia leg. They predictably fizzled out not long after.
Defending a Fan
May 13, Philadelphia
In a very viral moment during the second Philadelphia show, Swift paused mid-chorus in “Bad Blood” to defend a fan from an apparently aggressive security guard. “She’s fine! She wasn’t doing anything! Hey, stop!” Swift yelled, incorporating the command so smoothly into the song that it turned into its own remix.
Keith Urban Accidentally Hard-Launches Phoebe Bridgers and Bo Burnham
May 14, Philadelphia
While some celebrity Eras Tour attendees seemed to delight in showing off their fandom and interacting with fans (looking at you, Channing Tatum and Laura Dern), others tried to keep their presence more low-key, including rumored new couple Phoebe Bridgers and Bo Burnham. Yet that didn’t stop fellow A-list Swiftie Keith Urban from revealing them anyway, when he posted a TikTok from the Philadelphia show’s VIP section featuring the duo kissing in the background. As viewers gossiped about the long-suspected pairing, Urban apologized for blowing their cover, saying that he “was just digging on the concert! You never know what’s gonna happen.”
Ice Spice Shows Up
May 26, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Two days after announcing on social media that Ice Spice had joined a remix of Midnights’ “Karma”, Swift and the rapper appeared onstage together to premiere the song and its accompanying music video. It was a fun surprise for fans of both stars, and helped quash the rumors that the two had any, er, bad blood, following the Matty Healy controversy.
Tears During “I Don’t Want to Live Forever”
June 3, Chicago
It’s rare for Swift to get visibly emotional during a performance, but at the second stop on the Chicago leg of her tour, she did just that during an acoustic performance of her 2017 track “I Don’t Want to Live Forever.” A mournful breakup song originally sung as a duet with Zayn Malik, it’s no wonder that “Forever” gave Swift — then two months post-public breakup with Alwyn — some big feelings. Fans rallied in support for the singer, and it’s widely considered one of her strongest surprise song performances from the tour.
The Start of the “Errors Tour”
June 4, Chicago
Even a tour as polished as Eras isn’t incapable of the occasional misstep. Early in the tour, Swift’s piano started playing itself, her mic malfunctioned, and her hand even started bleeding. But it wasn’t until the singer accidentally swallowed a bug during one of the Chicago shows that the fan-coined term “Errors Tour” started to seem appropriate. It would be far from the last gaffe of the tour and the only one to leave Swift looking actually nauseous.
Taylor Lautner Does That Weird Backflip Onstage
July 7, Kansas City
Unlike other Swift exes like John Mayer or Jake Gyllenhaal, Twilight’s Taylor Lautner has never seemed to mind the attention his romantic history brings (in fact, some argue that he enjoys it a bit too much). So while his appearance at Swift’s first Kansas City show to promote his cameo in the just-released “I Can See You” music video was not a total shocker, no one (apparently even Lautner) could’ve predicted the actor would do cartwheels and backflips onstage — or that he would do them again at a screening of the Eras movie a few months later.
Fans Cause an Actual Earthquake
July 22–23, Seattle
There are loud concerts, and then there’s Seattle. Over two nights in the Washington city this past summer, Eras audience members danced so hard that it caused seismic activity equal to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake, per experts. It was a ground-breaking night, literally.
Bianka Bryant Gets the “22 Hat”
August 3, Los Angeles
One of the cutest parts of the Eras Tour is when Swift gifts the hat she wears during “22” to a lucky audience member. Recipients have ranged from Mikael Arellano (creator of the “Bejeweled” dance) to Selena Gomez’s little sister, but perhaps no moment earned as sweet a reaction as when Swift delivered the hat to Bianka Bryant, 6-year-old daughter of the late Kobe Bryant; it even made it into the Eras movie.
Karlie Kloss Shows Up
August 9, Los Angeles
You don’t have to be a #Kaylor truther to understand the significance of Karlie Kloss, Swift’s former and seemingly estranged BFF, attending one of her L.A. shows in August. The supermodel’s unexpected appearance sent shock waves through the Swiftie community, with many fans still wondering whether Swift knew Kloss was coming or was just as surprised as we were.
“The guy on the Chiefs”
November 11, Buenos Aires
By mid-November, Swift’s rumored romance with NFL player Kelce was well underway; the athlete even flew out to Argentina to watch her perform (where he apparently bonded with potential future father-in-law Scott Swift). But few expected the singer to acknowledge her new love interest so directly by changing the lyrics to her song “Karma” to mention “the guy on the Chiefs coming straight home to me.” The switch even seemed to stun Swift’s own dancers — the shock only grew when the star ran up to Kelce after the show for a very public kiss.
TikTok Mashup Makes It to the Main Stage
November 11, Buenos Aires
What a time to be alive in Argentina! Swift, who’d already proven to take inspiration from TikTok by incorporating the viral “Bejeweled” dance into every show, pulled from the platform again by mashing up her just-released 1989 (Taylor’s Version) vault track “Is It Over Now?” with her hit“Out of the Woods,” an idea likely taken from a fan’s video, which she later liked.
Brazil Shows Go Very, Very Wrong
November 17–20, Rio de Janeiro
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The Brazil leg of the Eras Tour was, to put it bluntly, a mess. Swift breaking a heel mid-song and throwing the bejeweled Louboutin into the crowd (the fan who caught it is apparently selling it to raise funds for his cousin’s cancer treatment) was the least of her problems. Extreme heat and ill-advised venue rules led to one canceled show, at least hundreds of fans needing medical attention, and one audience member, Ana Clara Benevides Machado, sadly passing away at the start of the first concert reportedly after going into cardiac arrest and losing consciousness. During that night’s show, Swift herself — seemingly frustrated by her crew’s lack of help — passed out water bottles into the crowd, aiming them directly at suffering fans during “All Too Well (10 Minute Version).” The next day, the singer mourned Machado’s death on her Instagram, saying, “This is the last thing I ever thought would happen when we decided to bring this tour to Brazil.” On Swift’s invite, several of Machado’s family members attended the star’s final Brazil show, wearing shirts sporting the late 23-year-old’s face.
The 2023 leg of Eras may be over, but the record-breaking tour isn’t even halfway done; Swift still has over 80 more shows to perform, starting with Tokyo on February 7 and ending in Vancouver on December 8. Suffice to say, there will be plenty more on-stage antics, surprises, and viral moments to come. Are you ready for it?
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Rachel Simon , 2023-12-12 15:27:19