It’s been a long time coming. Two years after the pandemic-forced cancellation of Lover Fest, the tour she’d planned to promote her 2019 album Lover, and five years after the Reputation Tour embarrassed skeptics by becoming the highest-grossing tour in U.S. history, Taylor Swift is now steering her juggernaut Eras Tour from city to city, cutting a cultural swath unlike anything we have seen before.
This isn’t hyperbole: Swift concerts have long been costume-heavy, dance-packed events with as many sets as a Broadway production. The Eras Tour kicks the pageantry up several notches, boasting a three-hour setlist and tons of nifty stage tricks. And coupled with feverish post-pandemic anticipation, Ticketmaster-induced chaos, and a musical catalog that’s ballooned post-Lover with an overwhelming amount of new and re-recorded material, the Eras Tour has proven that it can’t be confined to something as dinky as a state-of-the-art football stadium.
Nope, this thing is a city-eater.
Thus far, the Eras Tour has hit seven different cities around the U.S., setting attendance records in Arlington, Texas’s AT&T Stadium and Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.
“With Sunday’s concert reaching roughly 71,000 showgoers and a three-night total nearly eclipsing 212,000, Swift set a single-event and weekend record for attendance at Nissan Stadium,” the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp told The Daily Beast in a statement. “She’s the first artist in Nashville history to play three headlining shows at Nissan Stadium in as many nights.”
Along the way, the tour has made its mark on local tourism. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, tourism levels in the city were driven back up to pre-COVID levels during the weekend the tour rolled through in March—weekend hotel occupancy reached 94.5 percent, the highest it had been since February 2020’s 94.8 percent.
And last weekend in downtown Nashville, hotels were at 97 percent occupancy and 12,482 rooms were sold, the NCVC told The Daily Beast. On Saturday, occupancy was at 98 percent, and 12,614 rooms were sold.
The images and videos shared of the crowds outside these events are staggering. TikTok is flooded with footage of Swift-induced traffic jams, both vehicular and pedestrian; outside Nashville, two Swifties passed bracelets from one stalled car to another. And it’s not just the actual ticket holders who are getting in on the Eras Tour craze: People who didn’t manage to get tickets have been showing up outside stadiums anyway, just to tailgate. Some of them are even lining up at the merch booths—which you don’t need a concert ticket to access—for as much as eight or nine hours at a time for the chance to buy exclusive concert hoodies, T-shirts, tote bags, and the like.
After the April 29 show in Atlanta, fleeing Swifties were caught in a sudden downpour, and one TikToker captured the ensuing chaos on the downtown MARTA train line. “Oh hell no,” a local exclaimed as the train pulled up to the platform and dozens of rain-soaked teens in glittery dresses and cowboy boots came into view.
Fans particularly determined to see Swift are also not being deterred by concert location, meaning the Eras Tour is causing overlapping cross-country migrations and driving up travel prices. On Eras weekend in Tampa, hotel rooms that usually cost between $200 and $400 on a typical April weekend cost upwards of $1,000, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Amtrak trains from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia, the site of this weekend’s Eras shows, are selling out, according to the Washingtonian, and the same is true for airline flights.
And then there’s the other seemingly necessary budget item an Eras Tour-attending fan has to take into account: the outfits.
“We definitely did more business around that time,” Alex, a cashier at The Junkman’s Daughter, an alternative clothing store in Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood, told The Daily Beast of the April 28-30 Eras Tour weekend. “We had a bunch of people who were going to the concert, and I would assume a lot of those people were buying outfits, because we have a ginormous women’s clothing section.”
“Most people would be traveling around Little Five Points because it’s touristy,” Alex said. “So anyone who comes from outside Atlanta tends to visit that area.” (Like, for example, the stampede of Weekend Warrior Swifties from NYC who trekked to Atlanta and were desperate to buy a last-minute outfit.)
Before Swift even sets foot within the confines of a downtown area for her big show, members of local government have taken steps to publicly encourage her takeover.
The mayor of Tampa, Florida, made the pop star Mayor of Tampa for the day and gave her the key to the city; Nashville Mayor John Cooper dedicated a bench to her in Centennial Park, in reference to her song “Invisible String”; and several other lawmakers have named streets and even days of the calendar after Swift, ensuring she leaves a permanent mark on cities hosting her tour.
Never was that more seen than in Glendale, Arizona, where the Eras Tour kicked off on March 17. A few days prior, on March 13, (13 is famously Swift’s lucky number), Mayor Jerry Weiers declared that the city of Glendale would temporarily change its name to “Swift City” to celebrate the tour’s launch, even saying in an Easter egg-filled statement, “We know all too well that [Swift is] one of the most influential artists of her generation and we are writing our own love story for her.”
Sue Breding, the city of Glendale’s communications director and a Swift fan who once interviewed the pop star herself back in 2006, told The Daily Beast that the entire, elaborate, Taylor-centric campaign was her idea.
“We symbolically renamed our city Swift City for March 17 and 18,” Breding told The Daily Beast. “That ended up going viral, and other cities have being doing similar things, and so that generated a whole buzz of excitement for the 70,000 Swifties who came [to Eras in Glendale].”
— City of Glendale, AZ (@GlendaleAZ) March 13, 2023
“I became a trendsetter, and to use Swiftie parlance, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become the mastermind behind something so fun for my city and for other cities,” she added. “From the moment she became the first act in history to sell out two shows at State Farm Stadium in a single tour—and the icing on the cake is she was starting the tour off here—leading up to the concerts, I would call it a deafeningly excited buzz.”
And when that opening night finally arrived in Glendale, Breding recalls, “The entire area was alive, starting really early in the afternoon. It was just buzzing. We have a sports and entertainment district, and those restaurants were offering Taylor Swift-themed cocktails—one was called Lover, one was called Midnight Rain. All the bars were outdoing each other with their themed drinks. This isn’t normal. Hotel rooms were booked up and at capacity, and they were able to charge the highest rates. We had so many bars and businesses celebrating, and I can tell you that the weekend they had rivaled the Super Bowl [which was held in Glendale in February]. The buzz, the traffic, the hotels; all of that rivaled the Super Bowl.”
With the Eras Tour not even halfway through its U.S. stadium run—it’ll hit major cities like Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles throughout the summer—we have yet to see the full extent of Swift’s city-eating ways.