I have to admit, it was not without some curiosity -- and an NJ Transit bus full of cynicism -- that I found myself en route to MetLife Stadium to see Taylor Swift on Friday night.
The companies that hold major contracts to provide extermination and bed bug prevention services at the city’s movie theaters have a luxury box there and my buddy just so happens to be the theater manager who signed off on their contract.
So he had an invite, and I was the plus one; I was getting in for free and getting the best brisket sliders this side of the Meadowlands. At this point in my life, that was more than enough to make Friday night an event.
But something strange happened Friday night, something unexpected.
Somewhere between the LED bracelets that were given to every concertgoer that night and the mind-blowing, surprise appearance of our World Cup soccer high priestesses, I started to like, admire and get -- I mean, really get -- TayTay.
That’s because hers is a world filled with possibility, positivity and sensitivity -- three things many of us find in short supply on a daily basis.
Here’s how she won me over:
I SEE THE LIGHT(S)!
Taylor Swift is all about her fans and making those fans feel like there is no one more important to her. Swift did that on a mass scale -- 60,000 fans each night -- at her two sold-out shows at MetLife this weekend, and is doing it throughout the tour. How? With a nifty, LED bracelet that lights up on TayTay’s demand via radio waves from her concert production crew, her fans automatically got a crucial supporting role. The bracelets flashed in synch with each track on the night’s set list. No one has ever used the technology on this grand a scale.
The TayTay bracelets also save lives. I’m not kidding. Three fans were driving home from a show in Louisiana when they got into an accident. Their phones were dead and they used their bracelets to flag down help.
In Taylor Swift’s world, there is always room for another BFF. And when you’re on that ever-expanding short list, you get to make cameo appearances in video testimonials (Selena Gomez did). Or even better, she puts you in one of her videos, like Lena Dunham in "Bad Blood." Tay brought Dunham and some other BFFs out on stage Friday night, including Hailee Steinfeld,Gigi Hadid,Lily Aldridge and Heidi Klum. I was already warming up to the superstar after she granted 1980s icon Molly Ringwald entrance into the Taylor BFF club. Ringwald and I are contemporaries, so it proves Taylor doesn’t forget about old people.
Swift is all about treating young artists with respect and using her clout to help others. Not that he particularly needs help this summer, but another of the cameos Friday night was The Weeknd who, with Swift, performed his summer hit "Can't Feel My Face." For me, it represents Swift’s pay-it-forward sense of duty. Just as she used her sales clout to embarass Apple into paying artists during its new streaming service’s free period, she seems to relish boosting other performers. On Saturday, she brought out Joe Jonas.
TAYLOR LOVES NEW YORK
Any teen trying to convince their parents that New York is THE place to be when they are young and trying to figure out the future has a strong voice on their side with Taylor, who still comes off, at 25, as the wide-eyed country girl. The show opens with the first song on her hit album "1989": “Welcome to New York.”
“I dreamt about moving to New York. I obsessed about moving to New York and then I did it,” she told ABC last fall. “The inspiration that I found in that city is kind of hard to describe and hard to compare to any other force of inspiration I’ve ever experienced in my life." In Taylor's world, a move to NYC means no ramen. Just life in a $20 million TriBeCa penthouse. Nice.
TAYLOR’S DAILY AFFIRMATIONS
At first I thought her schtick was preachy. At some point -- probably when she hit a nerve with something I could relate to -- my cynicism melted. Her message is simple: Adversity makes you stronger; don’t be petty, mean or judgmental; think before you speak; beauty comes from within. All good.
TAYLOR & THE SOCCER CHAMPS
Now that’s Girl Power. In Tay’s world,hanging out with the World Cup winning women’s soccer team is, like, no biggie. It was chaos and pandemonium as she did just that, on stage, Friday night.
ROMEO & JULIET DON’T DIE
Taylor sang an updated version of her early career hit, “Love Story,” which is a Swiftian retelling of Romeo & Juliet. I remember when I first started studying Shakespeare in high school how infuriated I was that a series of what-ifs culminated in the two young lovers’ suicide. In Swift’s version, however, the obstinate parents give in and no one dies.
She rewrote Romeo & Juliet.
I want to live in Taylor’s world.
An @nyc_oz bonus:
HOW TO REPLACE BATTERY IN TAYLOR SWIFT’S LED BRACELET