Taylor Swift the Eras Tour: a Cultural Phenomenon

Erin Saltaformaggio and Molly Walker

Article by Erin Saltaformaggio and Molly Walker Featured Author


From March until August this year, Taylor Swift played 52 sold-out shows in stadiums across the U.S. on the first leg of her Eras Tour. The tour continues internationally through next year. Swift will then return to more sold-out venues in the U.S. in the fall of 2024. In all, Taylor will play 146 dates across five continents.

The Eras Tour is Taylor’s first since 2018 and since then she released four albums. For non-Swift fans, “Eras” refers to each of Taylor’s albums since she first arrived on the music scene in 2006. Swift’s three-hour Eras Tour show includes music from each of her studio albums.

The tour is not just a music event, but a cultural phenomenon providing an economic boon to each tour stop and confirming Swift is one of the most successful and influential music artists of our time. We experienced the phenomenon first hand. The following is our personal account.

First, we should set the scene: The Era’s Tour stage consists of a huge catwalk that spans nearly the entire length of the stadium floor. The size of the stage allows for Taylor to interact with fans all over the stadium. The concert features several elaborate set designs, costume changes, more than a dozen backup dancers, backup vocalists, and Taylor’s band.

The set opens with Taylor’s backup dancers wearing giant billowing sails as they walk down the catwalk to Taylor’s voice in the background repeating, “It’s been a long time coming…” The scene culminates in Taylor rising from underneath the stage to open with “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” and “Cruel Summer.”

As the concert progresses, stage designs include: from the Lover era, the “Lover” house (which looks like a giant dollhouse) and giant scaffolding and an office setup for her song “The Man”; a forest scene and cottage from her Folklore and Evermore eras; the familiar snake motif introduced during the Reputation era; and purple clouds during her song “Lavender Haze.” The concert employs pyrotechnics and electronic features on the stage like other large stadium concerts. During the song “Mastermind,” the stage looks like a giant chessboard with square sections lighting up from beneath as Taylor and her dancers move around the stage.

Molly: Everyone has heard about the Ticketmaster fiasco. I was not lucky enough to get a “presale code”, so I ended up buying my tickets on the secondary market. How did you get your tickets?

Erin: I got a “presale code”, which meant that I had the opportunity to wait in a virtual waiting room on Ticketmaster’s website for nearly seven hours one day last November. Finally, I was notified I was at the “front of the line” and let in to purchase tickets.

Molly: I bet your billable hours took a hit that day! Where did you see the show?

Erin: Atlanta. Taylor played three shows at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in April 2023. Nearly 300,000 people saw her concert that weekend. I attended the second of the three shows with my sister, Rachael. It was the third time we’ve seen Taylor perform, including the 1989 Tour in 2015 in Kansas City and the Reputation Tour in New Orleans in 2018. What about you?

Molly: I drove to Dallas to see Taylor on a Friday night in April. She played at Cowboys Stadium (AT&T Stadium), which is an enormous venue. This was also my third time to see her with my daughter. We first saw her in Nashville in 2015 on the 1989 Tour and we were also in New Orleans for Reputation in 2018. I’m excited Taylor will be returning to New Orleans in 2024, although I didn’t get a presale code once again!

Erin: What was the atmosphere like in Dallas?

Molly: It was the friendliest concert environment I’ve ever experienced — a total Taylor lovefest. We had standing room only tickets, but no one was pushing or shoving. People were actually saving spots for others while they bought merch or food. A stranger gave my daughter a friendship bracelet because they were both dressed in the Red era. Everyone was dressed up, mostly inspired by an “Era”, and some of the fans’ costumes were really over the top. I think the Dallas area must have sold out of sequins leading up to the concert! What was Atlanta like?

Erin: The “scene” was great. The crowd was overwhelmingly female, although there were definitely male “Swifties” in attendance too. Because tickets were so hard to get, everyone appeared really excited to be there. There were even hundreds of fans who showed up just so they could experience the show from outside the stadium. Each person inside the stadium was given a light-up bracelet that flashed along to the songs and created different patterns and designs throughout the stadium, which added to the overall experience.

Molly: Did you dress as a particular Era?

Erin: One unique thing about Taylor’s music is that each Era is defined by a specific aesthetic that she embraced throughout that “Era.” Country music defined her first three albums and included looks featuring cowboy boots and fringe dresses. Her fourth album, Red, was the beginning of her transition to pop music and her clothing was more vintage inspired including her signature red lipstick. She fully transitioned to pop music in 1989 and she embraced a 1980’s pop look while she promoted that album. Her style continued to evolve and change with each subsequent album. A lot of concert goers really went all out in dressing like one of Taylor’s eras. We joined in the fun by wearing clothes that fit into different of Taylor’s Eras, too. Although our outfits weren’t nearly as elaborate or detailed as others.

Molly: In addition to my daughter, we went with two of her friends and a friend of mine. All five of us dressed as a different Era. Did you have a favorite set or song that she played?

Erin: One of my favorite moments was when she sang her song “Marjorie”, which she wrote as a tribute to her late grandmother and includes vocals from her late grandmother. The entire stadium turned on their phone’s flashlights during the song, which surprised Taylor and made her emotional. Afterward she commented how “beautiful” the moment was. I also really loved Taylor’s performance of “Tolerate It.” The stage design included a table-setting scene, which made the song feel more like a play in a theater than a concert in a stadium.

Molly: That sounds really beautiful. At each concert Taylor has a surprise song that she plays toward the end which isn’t a part of the normal concert set. At our show in Dallas she sang “Sad Beautiful Tragic”, about the sadness of the end of a love affair. I think not coincidentally, news came out just a few days later that she and her long-time boyfriend had broken up. The whole experience was exceptional and memorable. Taylor is a master performer and is also so gracious with her fans.

Erin: So, would you do it again?

Molly: To quote Taylor, “I’d do it over, and over, and over again if I could.”