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 of 10,000 Lakes on the state’s official 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 of 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 of 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 of Minnesota,” she told the crowd of 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 of her two Minneapolis tour dates, citing her “truthfulness, grace, extensive philanthropy, and strength of character.”
“I’m not quite sure what that means for me, if I get any extra privileges in the state of 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 of a baby gurgling the word “gorgeous” from the reputation track of 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 of the song. Both were sweet, hammy moments that demonstrate her continued appeal to the legions of 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 of drama around Swift, she’s maintained an affable goofiness — particularly with her fans on social media and on stage — that keeps her grounded even as her celebrity soars. When she sang of 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 of a Broadway smash). And when she sang the gently sensuous “Call It What You Want To” toward the end of 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 of the point — those are the kind of off-handed, dumb-but-cute moves you deploy when you’re dancing alone in your room or singing along to music with a group of friends.
And that was exactly what the crowd felt like. More than couples or families or people flying solo, the audience was made up of groups of 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 off 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 of 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 of thousands of 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 of her world — and a larger community whose interests include doomed romances, sick beats and nights at home with your cats — remains.