Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Film Captures Cultural Event – The Oberlin Review

I, like much of the country, was devastated after the Ticketmaster nightmare that was attempting to buy tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. The tour was, and is still, one of the most hyped-up events of the year, and as a life-long Swift fan, I felt like I was missing out on perhaps the most significant moment of her career when I couldn’t get tickets to the initial U.S. leg. I spent hours watching TikToks where she was a dot on my phone screen, straining my ears to hear her vocals over the shouts of the audience. When I learned she was releasing the concert film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, I felt like I had a chance to partake in the cultural event I had so bitterly lost out on. 
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is a typical concert film — minimal embellishments, for the most part a straight-up documentary of the show — and that is what makes it so special. While nothing can truly mimic the charged atmosphere of an actual concert, the film makes seeing Swift perform live a much more accessible experience. The unfortunate reality is, not only were tickets hard to secure in the initial sale, but resale prices were prohibitively high for the average concertgoer. While I think this is part of a much larger problem that needs solving, in the meantime, I appreciate the ability to see my favorite artist in the best way I can.
The film highlighted how skilled of a live performer she is. While I love her singing and lyrics in general, Swift isn’t to everyone’s taste, and that’s totally fine! However, it’s hard to argue that her elaborate sets and powerful vocals for each song aren’t the mark of a talented artist. The film captured her belting out high notes and the incredible props, outfits, and dance routines she had arranged differently for each “era” of the tour. Many artists can get up on stage in jeans and a T-shirt and sing their songs live, but one thing is for sure about Swift: she puts on a show. The Eras Tour film is able to portray this from all angles, close-ups and long shots, and overall spotlights her performance abilities.
Swift isn’t the only person that the film depicts well. Alongside Swift, there is a whole team of backing vocalists and dancers that help her create the experience that is The Eras Tour. While I haven’t actually been to the show, I would speculate that during the commotion of the concert, it may be hard to give those other performers the attention they deserve. From what I know about large concerts, including Swift’s Fearless and Speak Now tours, there is so much stimulation that it’s hard to focus on anything but Swift’s singing. In the film, the talent of her team is obvious, and at certain points they are almost as centralized as Swift herself. It does well at showing how many people are directly involved in making the performance so breathtaking. Though, I will say, I was disappointed that the only credit they received was at the end, when Swift mentioned her dancers as she was taking bows and finishing the show. In her previous concert film, Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour, she introduced each of her dancers by name toward the beginning of the show. I thought that this was a better way to recognize the people so essential to the show. 
I found Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour to be especially enjoyable because it allowed me to focus on the smaller details of the show. At live performances, I am usually swept up in the lights, the noise, the action, and all of the chaos that is par for the course of a massive show like Swift’s. An element that the film captured and that I probably would’ve missed at the actual show, is those seemingly minor aspects such as patterns on her outfits, jewelry she was wearing, or her facial expressions. In turn, how she chose to perform certain songs — as in, what body language she was conveying or what emotions she showed on her face — helped me understand those songs more. In watching the film, I was able to truly see how Swift wanted her songs to come across. 
I might’ve also been able to appreciate the actual vocals in the film more than I would’ve at the concert. As I mentioned, it’s easy to get caught up in the energy of a show. An inherent part of being at a large show is being a part of a large audience. The nervous excitement and almost constant cheers and applause are certainly fun, but they do affect how well you can hear the actual singer. In the film I was able to hear Swift’s vocals isolated and in their full glory. 
Like I said, I understand if Taylor Swift isn’t everyone’s favorite artist. But, even if she’s not to your personal taste, it’s impossible to deny that she’s been breaking ground with this tour. Her opening night was the most-attended concert by a female artist in U.S. history. The ticket sales were unprecedented: Ticketmaster sold two million tickets to The Eras Tour in a single day. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour has been no different in terms of record breaking. It had the widest-spanning release for a concert film, as well as the highest opening weekend for a concert film in the U.S. It also had the highest single-day presales ever. Like her or not, Swift has some influence. I’m so excited to see what she does next.
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