After seeing our excitement first-hand and hearing all about our experiences at the two Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Shows in Santa Clara, and the final three Fare Thee Well Shows at Soldier Field, my daughter Natalie knew that there was only one thing she wanted to do to celebrate her twelfth birthday — see Taylor Swift in concert.
WooHoo! I love Taylor Swift!
While she has been to several theater shows and musical performances, ranging from local productions to full blown Broadway shows, she had never been to a concert. With the concert happening at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara in only a few weeks, I arranged to send Carter to my parent’s house and Brian once again hit up StubHub and found us three awesome seats near the front of the lower bowl. He also booked a room at the closest hotel we could find to Levi’s Stadium so we didn’t have to drive back late at night. (What a great Dad!)
Our next order of business was finding Natalie a concert outfit. We first looked online for some tees, but it was too close to the show to get them in time, so we headed to the mall for a cool, boho inspired outfit. After we hit several stores, we finally found exactly what Natalie was looking for at American Eagle Outfitters! She got a beautiful, light-weight, print kimono, a headband, a tank top, and some jewelry to add some bling.
Taylor Swift Birthday Weekend
We all were pretty excited to see Taylor Swift in concert, even Brian.
The Dead shows this summer were awesome, but let’s be honest, every show was just the guys standing on stage for hours playing — there was no talking and no theatrics, just great music. Brian and I were looking forward to seeing a completely different style concert, with dancers, special effects, and talking. And we were happy to be there for Natalie’s first concert experience, especially since both Santa Clara concerts were sold out.
The day of the concert, we dropped Carter off at my parents’ house, headed to Santa Clara, checked in to the Avatar Hotel — a boutique hotel with hip, modular furniture, bold colors, retro candy, and an impressive robot collection — and took a nap. We then met up with our close friend Melanie Mabry (who is way more like family) for a late lunch at Bennigan’s. She was in town from Cal Poly for the concert too, and it was her birthday, so we were excited to be able to celebrate with her!
I met Melanie when she was born and babysat her and her sisters throughout high school, was a nanny for her mom when I started college, transitioned to working for her mom’s advertising agency as a designer, and then when I had my own kids, hired her to babysit for me until she left for college. She is an amazing young woman!
After dinner we got ready for the concert and because the Avatar Hotel is only a mile from Levi’s Stadium, we walked to the concert. I was never so happy to be walking to and from a venue in my life.
It was a Friday evening, Levi’s Stadium is in the middle of a business park, and traffic was a nightmare. A huge number of concertgoers missed the opening acts because of it, and don’t even get me started on the mess of cars after the show. Staying at a hotel close to the stadium and walking in was the best decision of the night — it only took us 15-20 minutes!
Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour Concert
The Stadium was overflowing with tween and teen girls, and a large number of adult women in “Shake It Off” tanks and tees, families, groups of men (weird), and couples on dates. Natalie was on cloud nine, especially when she checked out our seats. Dad did good, really good.
It was super hot, so we first grabbed some bottled water and snacks, noticed one huge difference between this show and the Dead shows this past summer: The beer lines were non-existent. We then grabbed Natalie a concert tee and a commemorative photo book of the tour, checked out the photo stations, walked around the stadium, and marveled at all of the over the top fans dressed in costumes. We also found a really nice group of girls with handmade signs, who let me snap a photo of Natalie with our favorite sign!
The signs. OMG the signs. Swifties are intense and everywhere you turned there was a girl with a giant poster board sign and they held them up constantly. All I could think was that there had better not be someone with a giant sign sitting in front of us. Thank goodness there was a dad with four girls in front of us, none of which had signs.
The show kicked off with Sean Mendes who I knew from the Disney Channel, followed by Vance Joy who I had never heard of. Vance Joy was good, but most of his songs all sounded the same, and I liked Shawn Mendes way better. Natalie said that’s pretty much the consensus among her friends too.
When Taylor Swift finally took the stage, the stadium packed with 50,000 fans went crazy — and when they weren’t screaming, they were singing at the top of their lungs, and Natalie and I were singing and dancing right along with them!
Throughout the night, Swift performed 18 songs, with most of them off her 1989 Album, including our favorites Blank Space, Style, Bad Blood, and Clean. She was flanked with giant screens, a group of male dancers, and special effects, including a catwalk that rose into the air and rotated during the Shake It Off finale. The best special effect of the night was the wristband action. Wristbands were taped to every seat in the stadium (you can see them in the photo at the top of this post). Inside the wristbands were an LED light that was remote controlled to change colors or blink to the music throughout the show.
Seeing all 50,000 audience members wave their wristband clad arms in the air, colors changing in unison to the music, was pretty spectacular. Plus, once the concert was over they became touch activated so you could use it at home.
Swift was a pro performer, consistently striking poses throughout the show so the audience could snap great photos. She put on a fantastic and entertaining show, singing, dancing, and playing both the guitar and the keyboard. But the thing I appreciated the most as a mom was the time she took to talk to and connect with the audience.
She is clearly a role model for a huge contingent of tween and teen girls, and between almost every song she either took the time to speak intimately (well, what felt like intimately) to her fans, or to show video messages from her friends for the audience — and all of it centered around self love, self confidence, girl power, healthy relationships, and friendship. She shared personal stories and was encouraging, supportive, and overwhelmingly positive.
I really couldn’t ask more as a parent.
The surprise of the night was the special guest who joined Taylor on Stage. I knew she invited other musicians to join each show on tour, but I had no idea who it would be for our show, and I didn’t tell Natalie. She was absolutely giddy when Fifth Harmony took the stage to perform their current #1 hit Worth It with Swift joining in.
Overall, the concert lasted just about two hours. We made it out of the stadium quickly and were back to our hotel in no time!
The next morning we checked out and decided to grab brunch before heading home. When we were here for the Dead shows, we had the best brunch at Village California Bistro and Wine Bar in Santana Row, and I wanted their Egg Bruschetta again! Brian again ordered the Smoked Salmon Bistro Eggs Benedict and Natalie had the french toast — and we all cleaned our plates. Yum!
What About You?
Have you had the chance to see Taylor Swift in concert? What did you think? Who was the special guest? What other concerts have you been to that knocked your socks off?
I’d love to hear from you!