Taylor Swift at Toyota Center, 5/16/13

Categories: Aftermath

Now sure, we could get into the cynical runaround about how she's playing a character and the tears were probably manufactured, but what really stood out about the show is how, for the most part, genuine Swift comes off. With the exception of some disingenuous-sounding banter about bullies to set up "Mean," most of her speeches to the crowd came off as a glimpse into who she might actually be as a person. Sure, they're all well-rehearsed -- they all end with the title of the song she's about to play, after all -- but maybe there's some real truth to them.

Not that it matters. Hardcore Swift fans -- the type who spent the night before making signs out of Christmas lights -- were going to eat up everything she had to say anyway, and haters gonna hate.

So here we are again, talking about Taylor Swift the person, and not Taylor Swift the artist. Funnily enough, Swift is self-aware enough to figure out a way to tie the person to the art, embracing both through a simple statement at the start of the show.

"It looks like 12,000 of you have opted in to listen to me sing about my feelings for the next two hours," Swift said, acknowledging the fact that a lot of people call her out for the types of songs she writes. The crowd, as you might have guessed, roared.

I didn't scream, but by the time the show was over I was glad I opted in.

Personal Bias: I've always found Swift kind of boring as a country songwriter, so I'm glad she's embraced the pop side of her sound. However, since this is the bias section, in the spirit of honesty I'll mention that I'm a Kanye West fan.

Ed Sheeran
The Crowd: Lots of females of all ages, dressed casual-Friday style (comfy but not trashy) if they weren't in some coordinated, homemade light-up outfit with five of their friends. The males in the crowd were split between those who spent the entire show on their phones and the guys rocking their own homemade Swift shirts.

Overheard In the Crowd (Taylor Swift Edition): "Look! There's a picture of Taylor! In a purple dress!" Little kids are easily impressed.

Random Notebook Dump: I hope Kanye's new single doesn't leak while I'm at this show.

So, How Was the Opener?: Although his tracks have never grabbed me when I've heard them on the radio, I found a lot to like about Ed Sheeran live. Maybe I'm just biased because of my love of the "one man, one guitar, loop pedals" set up, but I thought his set was mighty impressive. I'd like to see him again, preferably somewhere where there isn't a constant hum of chatter and teen screaming in the background, but those days are probably already behind him.

Overheard In the Crowd (Ed Sheeran Edition): "That man is perfection. You don't even know. Holy shit."

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I don't know anything about her music, but those black shorts are the worst idea anyone ever had.

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