Like many women my age, I never tried to be a Taylor Swift fan; it just happened to me. So when the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film came out, I hit the Sunday matinee.
I was among the Ticketmaster casualties — one of the 14 million people who tried to buy tickets to Swift's Eras Tour last November — so I never attended the tour. But the film was hardly my first exposure to The Eras Tour. It took a six-month residency on my FYP, where I and others scrolled through tour content on a near-daily basis. I dutifully documented every surprise song for Mashable. And I even interviewed fans outside MetLife Stadium. Due to my beat as a digital culture reporter and my uniquely Swiftie algorithm, I watched the show through thousands of clips of the infamous "Vigilante Shit" chair choreography and Swift gliding across the stage singing "August." So it felt like I had seen the entire show.
But watching the film was a different experience entirely. As soon as Swift emerged onscreen after "Lover" — with her bejeweled guitar — dancing to the opening notes of "Fearless," I knew I'd seen nothing yet. All the things the internet convinced me to care about — key changes, surprise songs, and which celebrities were in attendance at each show — disappeared, and it was just me, Taylor, and all the eras we shared. The sheer volume of the film accentuated the feeling. It was so loud that I couldn't hear if my fellow moviegoers were singing along or if it was just me and Taylor. (Though, there were plenty of showings in which people did sing along...and dance.)
Swift barely needs to speak to the crowd because her storytelling creates such an unbreakable bond with the listener. Yet, when she asks the tens of thousands of fans in attendance, "Are you willing to go back to high school with me?" I cheered. And she brought me back. Fearless is imprinted on every adolescent fantasy I had about love, and its love songs are a catalog of crushes.
It feels less like a viral moment and more like a celebration of her career.
When Swift moved seamlessly from the teenage Fearless era to the witchy Evermore era — I was jerked from elementary school to college — I was gobsmacked that I had yet to see a single online clip of Swift draped in a green cloak surrounded by dancers tossing golden illuminated orbs?! That was nowhere to be found on my TikTok feed.
On my tiny screen at home, The Eras Tour is reduced to snippets focusing solely on Swift and fan-favorite songs, but on an IMAX screen, the film captures every detail of production and the immense scale of her performances. It feels less like a viral moment and more like a celebration of her career.
The highlight of the nearly three-hour movie was the Reputation era, especially the mind-blowing transition from "...Ready For It" to a rocked-out version of "Look What You Made Me Do."
During Folklore, similar to the Evermore era, the quieter and more set-driven moments that lacked traction on social media shined on screen. Like laying a table with the fancy shit (and then climbing on it!) for "Tolerate It" or the scene of colorful ballgowns for "The Last Great American Dynasty" — that brought me back to the wedding during "Speak Now" on The Speak Now World Tour, the first concert I ever went to.
Despite the nostalgia, the Folkore set lagged, and I turned to my roommate to complain, "When is 1989?!" But Swift always knows what her fans want, and, sure enough, the opening notes to "Style" reverberated through the IMAX speakers, and during "Bad Blood" the bass reached blissful Oppenheimer levels.
As an OG Swiftie, I was least invested in the closing era: Midnights. But "Lavender Haze," which sees Swift surrounded by glowing clouds atop a raised platform, possessed a tween girl in front of me to get out of her seat and dance. She mimicked Swift's moves, down to her hand holding an invisible microphone. I watched her — a transformative moment that can't be captured on a phone screen — and the Swiftie cycle began again.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is in theaters now. Tickets are on sale at AMCTheatres.com and Fandango.com