Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Speak Now.

On July 28, Katie and I went and saw one of my all time favorite artists, Taylor Swift, in concert.

This picture from the stage was posted on Taylor's facebook page.
 I became a fan of hers back in 2006 when I first started hearing her song "Tim McGraw" on the radio.  I specifically remember telling a friend, "Yeah she's only like 17 and I hear she even writes all of her own songs!" Which, in todays musical culture, is pretty awesome.

Her first appearance on stage.  Ohhhh how I was wanting that dress!
Katie and I went and saw her in concert back in Fall 2008.  She and I had absolutely terrible seats, but still had a blast the entire show.  We decided that if we ever went to see her again, we would spend extra money to get seats that were up closer, where the fans actually stood up and were excited during the concert.

Last summer, my mom miraculously and inexpensively got tickets for her and Katie to see Taylor during her Fearless tour.  I hadn't made it a priority to go see her, so I missed her on tour that year.  They had fantastic seats and got them for next to nothing, and Katie came back to report that it was, in fact, a billion times better being up close.  Who knew? :)

Her second set and wardrobe.

Taylor's most recent album, "Speak Now", came out fall 2010.  I got it just in time for our big trip overseas, and listened to it nonstop the entire time, I'm pretty sure.  There was even a pretty wild experience we had in the airport in Istanbul, one that made me arrive at our gate and quickly turn on some Taylor Swift.  Her album helped me to forget that I was thousands of miles from home (as well as my comfort zone) and to remind myself of home, and country music, and America.  It's weird how music can have that affect on me! 

Anyway, when I heard about her coming to Grand Rapids, I knew that Katie and I had to go.  My departure for another country in 6-8 months was reason enough to make this concert a HUGE priority.  It was going to be my last chance to see Taylor for THREE years!  So like I said, we had to go.

Dress and Set #3

A lovely, flirty, twirly dress.

Except her show sold out in less than two minutes. I searched and searched and searched for tickets online.  I finally found a pair that I thought were reasonable for a cool $175 a piece.  ('Reasonable' of course being a relative term and for many of you, that probably sounds more like 'outrageous').  Katie and I were pretty excited though because, having learned our lesson in 2008, we decided we needed to get good seats.  We chose seats on the Center Floor, Row M.  Considering the fact that the letter "M" is the 13th letter in the alphabet, we were certain we had 13th row seats.  Which would have been awesome, except they weren't.

During her song "Enchanted"

They were much, much better!  When we arrived, Katie decided that she wanted a t-shirt, so she waited in line to purchase it with our cousin Jackie.  I wanted to hear the opening bands and scope out our seats, so I left her there to figure out where exactly we were going.  When I finally got on the floor, I started walking up looking for Row M.  I kept getting closer...and closer... and closer to the stage.  Still, the rows were only on "R.. Q... P..." and I was very confused.  We weren't supposed to be this close! We had row 13 tickets.  At that point, I decided to recruit some help in the form of a Van Andel Arena Employee.  What came out of my mouth was, "Can you help me find my seat?".  What he probably heard was, "Hi, I don't know my alphabet."  He humored me, nonetheless, and escorted me forward...forward...forward... and stopped at the fourth row.  The letter "M" written in chalk underneath our seats to clearly indicate that he wasn't playinga cruel joke on me, and that I DO know my alphabet backwards.

I could have hugged the man.

I held my breath and sat - stunned - in our amazing seats.  I couldn't wait to tell Katie! Looking back, I wish I would have waited for her so we could have experienced that super exciting moment together.  Being the sanguine that I am with my ever present need to connect with the people around me, I just turned around and exclaimed, "I had NO idea these seats were this good!" to the girls behind me.  They hadn't either.  Turns out the alphabet lettering for the rows started side stage, and at row "J" the rows crossed across the center. Who knew?! We paid way less for our seats than people in rows A-I, and we had significantly better seats.  After giving everyone around me high-fives, I settled in and listened to the first band.  As they were switching sets, I went and found Katie and shared the great news with her!  She purchased her shirt and we made our way down to our seats.  Her jaw literally dropped when we sat down.  It was such a fun moment, seeing the pure joy on her face!

Hitting a giant bell playing "Haunted"

There was a person in it who danced hanging from ropes a couple of minutes later.

We both really enjoyed the first band, Need to Breathe, and had a fun time getting to know the people around us.  In front of us were a mother and daughter.  The little girl had actually babysat all summer to pay for her $300 ticket herself.  More high fives. To our left, the Valla brothers who are huge Taylor Swift fans.   Actually, the pictures here on this blog are from them!  Once the show started, I realized we weren't getting very good pictures and it's not as fun going to concerts (or living life) through a camera lens all the time.  I looked over to our new friends and saw that they were getting amazing pictures, and asked if he would send some to me after the show.  He said yes, and I just crossed my fingers hoping that he actually would.  Well, he did!  He sent a cd that arrived yesterday with 139 pictures on it.  Isn't that so awesome?  I really think it is.

Now I don't just want a ukelele... I want a SPARKLY ukelele!

Anyway, the show had started and Katie and I were having so much fun singing and dancing and jumping and it was just a blast.  The entire concert was more like a theater production with dancers, trapeze artists, fireworks, and not a dull moment.  The entire performance was 100% choreographed and executed to perfection.  I was very impressed and highly entertained.  I love it when artists make a show unique for each city they are performing in, too.  She threw out a couple of fun changes to her lyrics (For example, changing a few lyrics and referencing that Taylor Lautner, the topic of her song "Back to December", is from Michigan during that song.)  The whole thing was quite clever and quite fun.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  She even did a cover of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" as a tribute to the great music that has come out of Michigan:

A couple of times throughout the night, I turned around to see what the entire arena looked like.  I have never had such good seats at a concert, and it was crazy imagining what it would be like to stand on a stage with that many people cheering for you.  It was a full house!

I probably would have had this look on my face, too.

At the end of the show, the fearless one of the two of us, Katie, ran up to the front row.  She listened to the last song and came back when the show was over.  As she got back to our seat we had a conversation that blew me away. 

Katie: "I got a guitar pick!"
Me: "What?! No way!! That is so awesome!!"
Katie: "Yeah, but I gave it away."
Me: "...What?! Why??:
Katie: Well, there were these two girls standing next to me, and they were reaching out to touch Grant (the guitar player) and he was reaching back, but they couldn't quite meet.  So he stood back and decided to throw his guitar pick to them.  He threw it, it went to the side and landed at my feet.  The girls were looking everywhere and I just picked it up, and they didn't know I had it.  I decided to give it to them because, ya know, I already got a guitar pick last year and he was trying to throw it to them.  So I thought it was only fair that they should get it."
Me: (Jaw dropped) "Seriously?  You got a guitar pick and then you gave it away because the other girls wanted it and the guy intended it for them?"
Katie: Yep!

Grant, the guitar player who threw the pick, is on the left

I was (and still am) completely blown away by the young woman she is becoming.  She really didn't think this moment was a very big deal, but I did.  When anyone anywhere is handing out freebies, the situation become an Every Man For Himself experience.  I mean, we've all seen when cheerleaders start throwing out XXL tshirts to a crowd, everyone gets on their feet screaming and waving their hands around as if it was a helicopter rescue on the RMS Titanic.  All they need is to see FREE and CATCH IT and they turn into gladiators fighting to the death for their prize.  It's kind of embarassing to think about, actually.  So when Katie did something that was very kind and very selfless in a moment where the prize isn't just free, it's from a famous guitar player, I was completely blown away.  I think it is an indication that something at the very core of her is very good, and very thoughtful.  I was just so proud of her in that moment. I keep bragging about it to anyone who will listen.  She is SUCH a special girl.

Floating over the crowd.  It looked quite fun, actually.
So anyway, it was an incredibly fun night.  There were a couple of times when I actually got a little emotional.  Not because of Taylor Swift or anything, but because I was having so much fun with Katie.  The fact that Josh and I are leaving so soon is making us rather intentional about building amazing memories before we go, and this was definitely one of them.


  1. What a fun night! I have so many fun memories from concerts with my sister too! Need to Breathe is pretty awesome too :o}

  2. In addition to the awesome experience and memory you created with Katie, I love that you made Taylor's Facebook page!

    How fun!! :)

  3. I loved it. My favorite part was when you asked for help. "Hi, I don't know my alphabet." It makes me a little interested in someday going to a concert.