We’ll never go out of style and neither will concert movies

My experience at the opening night of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour film

Stepping into Scotiabank Theatre for the opening night of the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour film screening felt like stepping into a different world. 

Attendees wore sparkly cowboy boots, Eras Tour merch or dressed like Swift herself. Most congregated at the concession stand, waiting in line to get their hands on precious cargo — Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour drink cups and popcorn buckets. 

While in the lobby I spoke with Rebecca Kirk, her daughter Heather Kirk and her friend Calleigh Pritchett. Kirk and her daughter were dressed up for the occasion, one sporting a pink cowboy hat and sparkly pink top, the other’s attire reminiscent of Swift’s in the “22” music video. 

After they were unable to get tickets for the Toronto live show, coming to the movie concert together seemed like a no-brainer.

Heather Kirk believes Swift’s popularity is partly because she is not just a musician, but a role model as well.

“She does more than just sing, she’s talked about her political views,” she said. “Some of her songs are about important things in society, and I think most teenage girls look up to her.”

Pritchett pointed to Swift’s history encouraging people to participate in voting as a notable example of the impact the artist can have on the world.  

“I think she’s really, really smart,” said Rebecca Kirk. “When you listen to her lyrics, she’s an amazing lyricist, she’s up there with anybody you can think of and she reinvents herself all the time. She’s made some amazing power moves as just a businesswoman, so sort of [an] all-around smart woman who has made it in this industry.”

Also attending were Morgan Kopytko, Kay Miller and Jess Sodeinde, who, like myself, were wearing friendship bracelets. We exchanged bracelets, a customary practice since the Eras tour first started. It was friendship at first bead all around. 

Miller and Sodeinde had never seen Swift perform live before, but Kopytko had. She came to have the experience again in a new way and to share it with people who haven’t attended a concert like Miller.

Kopytko mentioned how she went to see Swift perform live in Minneapolis this past summer, a show I went to as well. 

“I’m kind of hoping there’s a little bit of voice-overs, more like her other concert movies,” said Kopytko. 

She added that she looked forward to having a better view at the screening than the concert. “I’m looking forward to having a lot better of a close-up.” 

I sympathized with Kopytko’s comments but had the opposite feeling going into the film. My seat at the concert was towards the side of the stage, so while I had already gotten lots of close-ups on the concert screens, part of the main stage was blocked from my vision. I was hoping the film would showcase more of the stage, the dancers, the action and the spectacle that I may have missed at the live show. 

When I went into the theatre and found my seat, the people to my left offered me friendship bracelets— and again I participated in trading. Then I passed the other bracelets they made to my right, to share the friendship. 

Soon the film started to play. It was wonderful, magical and electric. However, I was a little disappointed to see that Kopytko’s hopes were more gratified than my own.

The film, probably rightly so, focuses on Swift herself. This is swell. This is what the people want to see, but “look at how my tears ricochet.”

When I go to a concert, I want to see the full spectacle. I want to feel the community of those I’m surrounded by, as we all take part in — and are a part of — this electrical, ephemeral moment that is the concert itself. I want to feel the energy of those up on the stage and hear and feel the power of the voice that sings. I want it all. Was that too much to ask for from the concert film? 

As the main draw was obviously Swift herself, it appears the answer was yes.

Despite my sulking, I had a marvelous time, and so did the rest of the theatre. 

The nearly three-hour-long film takes viewers through Swift’s many “eras,” also known as her different albums, all the way through to her latest album, Midnights.

Throughout the film, groups of people in the theatre started to stand and sing along. Some people were even dancing, myself included. Some of the hype may have come from the fact that 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is coming out this Friday, Oct. 27.

Despite some of the drawbacks inherent to being turned into a movie, the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour movie concert is one for the books. It is filled with light, love, darkness and energy.

Best of all, though, it’s communal. It provides a space for people who love Taylor Swift to connect and share in joys, pains and dreams, and a chance to scream, shout, sing and dance the night away. 

So, make the friendship bracelets. You’re not on your own, kid — you never have been.