As Taylor Swift herself once said, “Tis the damn season.”
We aren’t talking about “the holidays that linger” as referenced in the artist’s 2020 song, though. We’re talking about the quick-approaching season of graduation and the gift it has brought the class of 2023: a surprise concert by miss blondie herself.
Swift visited Montclair State University’s Yogi Berra Stadium on March 22 and held an immaculate performance of her popular “Eras Tour,” an event so widely attended that if tickets had been sold through Ticketmaster, the site would have crashed for a second time.
Instead, the singer personally sold tickets to students for only $19.89. Swift hosted the affordable concert as an apology to the graduating class for occupying MetLife Stadium the days near commencement, forcing the ceremony to take place in Newark’s Prudential Center instead.
Tickets sold out just as quickly as Sam’s Place soft serve ice cream runs out on a busy day, with the crowd waiting to enter the concert stretching from Yogi Berra all the way to Freeman Dining Hall, where the ice cream supply is a bit more reliable.
But the wait was worth it for a fiery three-hour performance consisting of 44 of Swift’s songs throughout the years. It was her best performance on tour yet, as her intended atonement to the graduating class evidently left her extra emotional as she sang. Tears, in fact, ricocheted.
Those that attended the concert were equally moved. Emma Caughlan, a senior journalism major, was particularly in awe.
“I’m literally hosting a birthday party where I’m making my friends dress up as Taylor in her different eras,” Caughlan said. “To see the woman I’ll be dressing up as really made me feel some type of way, especially when she started singing ‘22’ since that’s where I’m taking inspiration from for my costume.”
Caughlan felt so overcome by emotion that she direct-messaged Swift on Instagram after the concert to ask if she could “pull up” to the upcoming celebration. The artist has yet to respond.
Aside from the clear sentiment Swift showed her fans, her vocals were, of course, the highlight of the night. The Pennsylvania native’s voice was strong and powerful as ever, only softening when the crowd would sing along to fan favorites like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Bad Blood.”
But the true standout was her rendition of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version).” The 10-minute run of the song felt like half that length as the audience joined in singing each and every lyric. In a dazzling red dress with just two spotlights shining on her, the simplicity of the stage design put Swift and her audience’s voices at the center of attention for those few minutes.
Corey Annan, who graduated from Montclair State in 2022 with a bachelor’s in television and digital media, returned to campus for the concert as a not-so-secret Swiftie. Similar to many of those that attended, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” was his favorite part of the show.
“I’m usually a silly-goofy kind of guy,” Annan said. “Like my friends and I will do this thing we call ‘Corey-oke’ where I’ll sing a bunch of fun, upbeat throwbacks. That’s always been my thing, but my girl Taylor’s ballads are a guilty pleasure. Don’t tell my old frat brothers, but I actually shed a tear or five during ‘All Too Well.’”
When it wasn’t Swift’s sheer talent catching the listeners’ attention, it was her ethereal wardrobe. With several outfit changes throughout the setlist, each costume was truly something to behold, from her sparkly pink ball gown to her sequin-filled, pastel-colored bodysuit.
Senior journalism major Kim Lamparello, who admittedly is not a huge fan of the artist but “went for the vibes,” said Swift’s attire is what made the show so enjoyable for her.
“When I first saw her walk out on stage, I was like, ‘Girl, I know that’s not from Shein,’” Lamparello said. “Definitely nothing you’d see in the flash sale section at least.”
However, even with Swift’s visually stunning clothes and reliably captivating vocals, what resonated most with the Montclair State community was her kindness to the fans and desire to make amends with the graduating class. After witnessing the singer’s genuinity and undeniable effort, it’s safe to say some students and staff entered their Swiftie Era after this performance.