The Eras Tour: Taylor Swift’s Greatest Love Song

Taylor Swift

The cynical view of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour goes something like this: let’s take a cash grab tour of her past lovers and public debacles through songs that may have changed genres two or three times, but all sound the same. (They don’t.)

The critical view goes something like this: after mastering country, pop, and indie, are we looking at the next all-time great? (Ignoring the fact that, if she were a man, she’d already be lauded as being there.)

The delusion fan view goes something like this: Is this algebraic formula an Easter egg? (No.) Taylor Swift is for the girls, gays, and theys and straight men shouldn’t be allowed at the tour. (This is exhausting.) I bought all four versions so I could have a clock. (Okay, this one is more on Taylor’s incredible mind for capitalism; but, c’mon folks, it’s the same record. You only need one copy.) Etc.

Somewhere in the middle of this wild and inaccurate Venn diagram of discourse is the truth: we are witnessing something not quite before seen in history. Taylor has achieved something not seen in decades: monoculture. She’s the zeitgeist. Everyone seemingly has something to say about it. Including me.

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Review: Twenty One Pilots – MTV Unplugged

At some point you just have to acknowledge true artists and musical geniuses for what they are. Twenty One Pilots have always been ones to break the mold of blurring genre lines by tinkering with emo, pop-punk, rap, and synth-based rock to make a sound that is ultimately unique to them. Their MTV Unplugged performance is another example of what Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are capable of creating on the fly, as they invited the audience to participate in the creation of these songs. To quote Joseph on his closing line from the show, “We are Twenty One Pilots, and so are you.” By incorporating audience participation into the final recordings from the show, this statement has never been more accurate.

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On Community, Nostalgia, and Attending Furnace Fest

The last time that Furnace Fest happened at the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama, I was thirteen and music festivals weren’t even on my radar, let alone any band on the 2003 line-up. As I sit here eighteen years later, it’s hard to chart the trajectory of how the 2020 (er, 2021*, you know why) reincarnation of Furnace Fest came to embody every aspect of my life in the interim years, but I’m going to try and do my best to explain what that weekend meant to me.

It is almost a week after the event and I still haven’t gained my voice back, my neck throbs, and my lower back is coiled tight. My feet hurt, my legs are sore, and I’m a little sunburnt. I am definitely not eighteen anymore. Every second was worth it. Copeland wrote about love on 2014’s masterpiece Ixora saying, “I can make you feel young again,” and there is no time machine like a set list full of songs you love from your youth.

My buddy sent me a screenshot of the Furnace Fest line-up the day it was released in March and I assumed it was fake. I mean, look at it. One-time reunions of old favorites, first time opportunities for bands I’d been listening to since discovering these genres of music at 14. Even after attending two of the three days of the festival, numerous line-up drops and even more band additions, it doesn’t feel quite real looking at it or the final line-up. We made plans to go and I used my last remaining Biden Bucks set aside to have fun to purchase a two-day pass: Friday and Saturday were can’t miss days for me. A couple of artist announcements down the line and I bumped my ticket up to the full weekend, including a Thursday night pre-show.

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