When Taylor Swift brought her Reputation Stadium Tour to Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium on Friday (Aug. 31) night, she wasn’t just playing Minnesota on any ole day -- she was playing the Land 10,000 Lakes on the state’s ficial Taylor Swift Day.
Following a pyro-packed “I Did Something Bad” that radiated heat throughout the two-year-old venue, Swift set aside the dark melodrama that reputation track and reverted to the not-so-dead Old Taylor. Gone was the goth, and back was the extremely approachable singer who has endeared herself to fans for over a decade with a mix self-effacing silliness and charming informality.
After explaining how much she loves playing Minnesota -- she said she’s played the area 25 times in 13 years, which in “tour speak...means I absolutely love playing for you” -- Swift shared a story about learning that the state had dedicated Aug. 31, 2018 to her.
“Something that that makes somebody feel welcome in a state is when that state proclaims it Taylor Swift Day in the state Minnesota,” she told the crowd 40,000. “That is a real thing that happened today. I was scrolling through Instagram and I said, ‘Whaaaaatttt? Is that real?’”
Indeed it was; true to Minnesota Nice and Midwestern hospitality, Gov. Mark Dayton made the proclamation just ahead her two Minneapolis tour dates, citing her “truthfulness, grace, extensive philanthropy, and strength character.”
“I’m not quite sure what that means for me, if I get any extra privileges in the state Minnesota, but the main thing I want to do on Taylor Swift Day in Minnesota is play for this beautiful crowd,” Swift said, before cheekily teeing up her next tune. “Do you know the word for something that’s more than beautiful?” With an exaggerated hand-to-ear gesture from Swift, the stadium speakers blared the voice a baby gurgling the word “gorgeous” from the reputation track the same name.
Later in the show, Swift opted for a similar lead-in to “Delicate,” with her audience banter segueing into a call-out to the title the song. Both were sweet, hammy moments that demonstrate her continued appeal to the legions Swifties who packed the Minneapolis stadium dressed in outfits inspired by her videos, lyrics and album covers; Even as the tabloid headlines try to create a whirlwind drama around Swift, she’s maintained an affable goiness -- particularly with her fans on social media and on stage -- that keeps her grounded even as her celebrity soars. When she sang stumbling home to her cats in “Gorgeous,” she pantomimed licking her hand and rubbing her ears like a feline (perhaps also previewing some choreo from the upcoming silver screen version a Broadway smash). And when she sang the gently sensuous “Call It What You Want To” toward the end the night, she flashed two fingers in tandem with the word “to.” It’s not exactly artistically high-minded or physically astonishing choreography, but that’s kind the point -- those are the kind f-handed, dumb-but-cute moves you deploy when you’re dancing alone in your room or singing along to music with a group friends.
And that was exactly what the crowd felt like. More than couples or families or people flying solo, the audience was made up groups four-to-six friends, mostly girls in their teens and twenties, dancing and shouting the lyrics -- and not even to Swift, but to each other. During the rap breakdown in “Shake It Off” or the “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes” lament in “Bad Blood,” fans would spin to face each other and rattle f lyrics with unfettered glee. People danced without trying to look cool; they grabbed strangers’ shoulders in Swift solidarity. Sure, Swifties shrieked with delight when she flew over the crowd in a basket to play a few songs in the back the stadium (which blissfully included Red’s emotionally sagacious album closer “Begin Again” as the acoustic surprise), but the fans were most euphoric when singing lyrics to each other or posing for selfies with impossibly large smiles.
That atmosphere comes from the singer-songwriter herself. Swift’s disarmingly casual audience banter -- not to mention the glowing bracelets on all 40,000 attendees -- directly fosters the sense that a Taylor Swift tour stop isn’t so much about Taylor Swift as it is about Taylor Swift fans. In her reputation era, some have wondered if her increasing celebrity and the ensuing drama could make Swift less relatable. But after watching tens thousands Midwesterners sing the lyrics to reputation tracks with the same enthusiasm they afforded time-worn favorites like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me,” it doesn’t seem to matter that Swift’s subject matter has turned from high school romance to old fashioneds and Lower East Side dive bars. Her ability to make fans feel like they’re part her world -- and a larger community whose interests include doomed romances, sick beats and nights at home with your cats -- remains.