Shimmering Taylor Swift fans filled U.S. Bank Stadium with sequins Friday for a concert that marked not only a major cultural moment but an intimate, shared experience — between mothers and daughters, longtime besties and, after the exchange of bracelets, new friends.
They were there for the Eras Tour concert, buzzed about for weeks. Swift sold out two shows at the stadium after an infamous Ticketmaster debacle that disappointed those who didn't get in. Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed Friday and Saturday's concert dates official "Taylor Swift Days," following Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's unofficial renaming of the city to "Swiftieapolis."
After fighting Ticketmaster and traffic and long waits for merchandise, concertgoers grinned when finally entering the stadium, snapping selfies and singing songs. They were given another kind of bracelet — one that lit up. As a clock onstage counted down, the crowd screamed louder, then louder still.
Finally, Swift appeared on a stage awash in pink lighting. The tour covers all ten of her studio albums, with color-coded outfits for each "era." Her fans, famously devout and detailed, had dressed in their own elaborate outfits, many bespoke, that referred not only to the eras but to specific lyrics, quotes and inside jokes.
"Minneapolis, Minnesota, you're making me feel fantastic right now," Swift greeted the crowd.
A few songs in, a guitar around her neck, she asked: "Is there anyone here who put in a considerable amount of effort to be with us tonight?" The crowd roared. "That was exactly what I thought you were going to say."
"I just have a feeling I know the answer to this one too," she continued. "Is there anyone who put in a lot of thought about what they were going to wear tonight?"
The crowded roared again.
"I say this ... it's looking very cute. You did an amazing job."
The crowd sang along to every lyric of every era, their wrists sometimes blinking in time and changing colors. As Swift walked down the runway and into the crowd, singing "You Belong With Me," 13-year-old Penelope Hauser reached her hands out toward her from the main floor. Hauser began to cry, hugging her mom, Fran Hauser, of Rochester, who held her close.
It's a song that's played at every school dance, Penelope Hauser explained later, still teary. "She was coming so close."
Outside the stadium, family and friends reflected on how long it had been since they'd seen Swift in concert, how much they'd changed over that time.
Abigail Greenheck and her friend and old college roommate Chelsie Flatness surprised their 7-year-old daughters with tickets and matching red, sequined jackets. The pandemic brought Greenheck and her daughter, Sidney, "together in Swiftie nation," she said. Together, they devoured the albums, the documentaries.
"Now it's a shared love between us."
Fans can relate to Swift's different genres and eras because they, too, move through phases in their own lives, Greenheck said, her cheeks sparkling with silver glitter. "There's a commonality in that I think is cross-generational."
Outside on the plaza, two women in their 20s wearing bright red lipstick and heart-shaped sunglasses performed "All Too Well" on their harps.
"We're the unlucky ones," said Hannah Flowers, 27, as her friend and fellow harpist Anna Maxwell, 29, laughed. Unable to find tickets they could afford, the pair decided to perform for Swifties.
A girl apologized for not having money to tip them, offering a bracelet with letters spelling "August," a song from "Folklore," and "Bejeweled," from "Midnights," instead. A mom thanked the pair for lowering her blood pressure.
"We're happy to help," Flowers said.
Fans drove from the suburbs, from Iowa, from Manitoba. Susie Imhof and her mother, Annie, flew in from Denver to celebrate her 18th birthday. Friday's show would be her fourth time seeing Swift on this tour.
"We can't stop," Annie Imhof said. "We're addicted now."
Dozens of fans started their day at the Mall of America, which was offering free bracelet-making and face-painting in the north atrium, as well as $13 rides in yellow school buses to downtown Minneapolis.
Clad in cowboy boots and curls, Anaya Sierra threaded green and lettered beads onto elastic, spelling out "Our Song."
The 27-year-old has loved Swift since 2008, when she first heard that tune on the radio, she explained, beaming. She and her sister, Marcella, 20, drove up from Mason City, Iowa, on Thursday with their mother, Raquel Ponce, to see Swift for the first time.
They nabbed tickets for $159 a piece — a steal, they thought, considering resale prices.
The sisters love how Swift is true to herself, despite the haters, fights for her fans and adores her mother. In them, Ponce sees herself as a young, Prince-loving music fan. "To me, she's like Prince," she said of Swift. She writes her own songs, does her own thing and "is on her own level."
"I'm so happy to see them so excited," she said of her daughters, snapping photos. "They've been planning their outfits for weeks."
Just as Anaya Sierra was tying off her bracelet, the DJ played "Our Song." The sisters squealed, then sang along, rocking their hips.
On the bus to the stadium, fans traded friendship bracelets, a trend based on a lyric in "You're on Your Own, Kid" — "So make the friendship bracelets / Take the moment and taste it." Emma Pufahl, 23, made smaller friendship rings after spotting them on TikTok. As someone blasted "Cruel Summer" on their cellphone, a few folks debated possible "surprise songs."
Haley Willson, 21, predicted "Exile," a song that features Bon Iver, aka Justin Vernon, who is based in nearby Eau Claire, Wis.
"If Bon Iver came out, I would collapse," she said with a dramatic sigh.
The day tickets went up for sale, Willson refreshed Ticketmaster from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. She was about to give up when four tickets appeared. "I sobbed hysterically," she said. Willson, of St. Cloud, has been a fan "since birth," she said. Sitting beside her, her mother Katy Dols, 42, explained: "I'm the OG Swiftie."
Her wrists were covered in colorful bracelets the pair had crafted the night before. The mother-daughter pair had seen a lot of concerts together, Dols said, but "this is the most special."
Her voice caught and tears formed. "She's my best friend, my partner in crime."