Like the bags allowed into FedExField Tuesday night, the Taylor Swift fandom (Swifties or Swiftboaters) demands transparency. I run pretty hard for TayTay. I can call her that because I am a capital F FAN. I started listening to her in 2007 and she was my gateway drug into loving contemporary country music (though I do have to give credit to Shania and Faith, too). My husband and I attended the Red tour at Verizon (now Capital One Arena) Center. I had tickets to the 1989 tour but was moving to Vietnam so I had to sell them–the profit I made didn’t soften the blow any less. Maybe a true fan wouldn’t have upcharged a young teen girl and her friend but I’m an adult with BILLS. When the Reputation Tour was announced (and I’m back living in DC), you can bet I was doing everything I could to secure a good spot in the ticket queue. To prevent ticket bot scalpers, Taylor Inc. created an elaborate hierarchy for ticket purchasing that involved social media participation and most importantly BUYING ALL THE THINGS. I bought her album/magazine at Target on the day it was released. I also bought the album on iTunes because even though I have Spotify Premium she wouldn’t release it to streaming until slightly after the album release and I’m not good at waiting (which you’ll see play out later…).
All this building my case to say that I really love Taylor Swift and was very excited for her Reputation Stadium Tour last night at FedEx Field. Taylor herself definitely did not disappoint. She does a miraculous job making a massive stadium audience feel like her BFFs and her show had something for everyone and felt inclusive. FedEx Field on the other hand was out to get me and the atmosphere, not the music, made me feel like I’m waaaay too old for this shit.
I might have been better prepared if it’d looked at the FedEx Field website before the show. It laid out most of the roadblocks and rules of the stadium. There was a clear bag only rule and parking either was cash only or had to be purchased through Ticketmaster. I wasn’t the only one who missed the rules. I saw a mom in a screaming match with a security guard over bringing items into the stadium while her daughters sobbed in the background. I didn’t go to that extreme… maybe because I’d popped a weed gummy in the parking lot pre-show.
I’d never been to FedEx field before. I’m Silver Spring born and raised but I’m not a football fan and the only Redskins games I saw were at RFK. I’d also never seen a concert at FedEx, only HFStival at RFK as well (and that’s at least Metro-adjacent unlike FedEx). I was ill-prepared for the fact that it took over an hour to drive the 16 miles from Silver Spring to Landover, but I wasn’t sweating that part. Doors said they opened at 7 p.m. and my husband and I figured we had a couple hours before the openers Charlie XCX and Camila Cabello took the stage. We grabbed some sandwiches from Woodside Deli to take with us in the spirit of thriftiness and hit the road around 7 p.m. For some asinine reason I assumed parking would be free at the stadium because tickets were so damn expensive. The only reason I had that insane thought is that most of the shows I go to are at Merriweather where parking is gratis. It’s also free at Wolf Trap. Taylor’s other shows have been at venues very close to the >etro so that was the obvious choice then, but FedEx pretty much demands one drive. I had a brief moment where I thought about getting cash but for some reason ignored that pragmatic notion.
It wasn’t until we were stuck in the unmoving line of traffic to get to FedEx that I realized all the spots around the stadium were cash only and demanding anywhere from $20-35 to park in locations at least a mile from the uphill stadium. The stadium parking was listed as $50 cash only. I pulled an illegal u-turn for a $20 parking spot. Bizarrely, there was a PG-county cop taking money for the parking lot. I asked if there was an ATM nearby because he refused my plea for Venmo or PayPal (I had to try) and he said that the closest one was a 7-11 a few miles in the direction of the standstill traffic. He asked what cash I had to “make a deal” with me. I had $3. He laughed at me almost as hard as when I offered to Venmo him.
We were screwed and my husband was super chill eating his falafel while I was freaking out. This is pretty much how our marriage works. I was yelling at him to put some tzatziki on my gyro with even distribution while I FIGURED IT OUT. We both only had credit cards and the concert had definitely started because we could hear the screams from a mile away. I kept looking at the FedEx website for parking and it kept sending me to Ticketmaster who’s website said there was no parking passes available. I finally broke and went on StubHub where parking passes were selling for $73. And dear reader, I bought one. With service fees I paid $93 to park at the stadium (don’t tell my husband, he still thinks we just paid $73). This whole situation was made even more delightful when a teeny tiny sign to get into the stadium lot said you could use a credit card to pay the $50 stadium parking rate (while the much larger signs at the entry just said CASH). This should explain the weed gummy I medicated my anxiety with when we parked very close to the entry gate.
I already prepared by husband with the fact that I was going to purchase merch. My husband is VERY anti-merch. He’s right in that it’s overpriced and mostly ugly. In high school and college I was a big concert goer and devoted merch buyer and all that merch has since retired to Value Village thrift store. But I’d pre-shopped the Taylor website for exactly what I wanted and even though we’d already spent almost one hundred bones to park I was going to shell out for my $50 t-shirt. I asked the merch guy for a size large. It looked big enough but he insisted I hold it up to me to make sure it fit. “Don’t sell yourself short,” he said. I still have no clue if that was a compliment or an insult.
We learned at the gate, via the pre-show entertainment with the previously mentioned screaming mother, that I couldn’t bring in my purse. Luckily, the luxury of our high-priced parking allowed my husband to run my shirt and bag back to our car pretty quickly. He declared that he saw a cool bird in the parking lot (he’s an avid “birder” –look it up– so this was not strange to me). It was a win for us both.
The real show began when we entered the gate. We received a free “present from Taylor”: these fit-bitty looking bracelets that lit up different colors during the performance. I also got to take in the glory that is Taylor’s fandom and it is ODD. I saw an eight-year-old boy wearing a shirt that read “I want to be your endgame.” There were a group of girls carrying a giant cardboard tombstone that read R.I.P. OLD TAYLOR. I am guilty of throwing a bra on stage when I was 17 at a Weezer show (it landed on the head of a roadie who presumably kept it) but I never brought props to a concert. There was also a guy my age in a tank top that said “Taylor Swift or Die” which just seems very aggressive for a fan of a singer with a song titled “Delicate.”
My husband suggested we walk up the ramp to our seats rather than take the elevator. Our seats were in section 400–so all the way at the top. Exercise initially seemed like a good idea until about 75% of the way up when the weed hadn’t kicked in enough to offset my sweaty body and my shin splints caused by poor footwear. But my husband saw a few more birds and a cool looking church and we got a nice view of the sunset over scenic Landover, Maryland.
We took our seats, which while very high up were near the stage, as Taylor began at 9 p.m. It was a good view for this kind of stadium show with all the pyrotechnics and moving parts. The show itself was a hell of a show. There were shooting flames, fireworks, giant snake puppets, a fossil-shaped gondola that took Taylor from one end of the crowd to another, shirtless tribal drummers, a working fountain, and a Tiffany Haddish video cameo. Taylor played almost all of the Reputation album, which I enjoyed because I hold the, perhaps, controversial opinion that it’s far superior to the meh-ish 1989. My favorite part of the whole show was when Taylor sang “So It Goes” and “State of Grace” acoustic and it actually felt intimate. The only thing that felt off was when she sang “Love Story” and “Long Live.” As a grown-ass 28-year-old woman in thigh high black boots she felt a bit too old to be singing songs she wrote in her teens. I think that’s a good thing BECAUSE AGING IS AWESOME. Haters gonna hate, but Taylor Swift puts on a really entertaining show. She has a true knack for making an entire stadium feel like her BFF with sweet and appreciative patter.
Oh, and if you think I was dragging my husband unwillingly to this show, you would be wrong. He sang very loudly and flatly to most of the songs and I was very proud of him among a sea of mostly screaming, crying fragile white women.
The show ended at an incredibly reasonable 11 p.m. I could get in pjs by 11:30 I thought naively as we hopped in an elevator meant for children and the disabled. In the parking lot, my husband and I realized we were crazy thirsty. Unfortunately, the only water bottles were being sold $5 for 2 (remember I only had $3). If I couldn’t haggle with a cop I definitely couldn’t haggle with this surly vendor and his unlicensed sale of Costco water bottles. We figured we were close to home and could stop at a 7-11 on the way to hydrate. Little did we know that nobody was running the ape house that was the FedEx Field post-show parking lot. It took us almost 2 hours just to exit the lot. We were very thirsty and I thought for a moment we might have to now live in this parking lot. I entertained myself (my husband ignored me) by blasting the Hamilton soundtrack, singing loudly, and using the light up wrist bands like I was at a Broadway rave.
We finally got home around 1 a.m. and I put on my new very cozy, very overpriced t-shirt and drank water from the tap for 5 straight minutes. It was somewhat restorative.
This morning I found my daughter’s Paw Patrol water bottle, fully filled, under my driver’s seat and I found an email in my spam folder from FedEx Field from two days ago explaining all parking procedures. I also got an email from the Taylor Swift store offering me 20% off all tour merch. Well played, Swift, well played.
FedEx Field may have owned me, but as Taylor says “I’d do it over and over again if I could.” But maybe next time with more weed, water, and a Metro accessible venue.