SANTA CLARA — As the hours ticked down before Taylor Swift took the stage, thousands of fans that successfully battled it out for a seat inside the Bay Area’s first sold out Eras Tour concert, started partying outside Levi’s Stadium gates.
Swifties decked out in friendship bracelets, temporary “13” tattoos, sparkly cowboy hats, merch emblazoned with their idol’s likeness — and even a ballgown or two — queued in line for hours, anxiously waiting to experience the cultural phenomenon, which is on track to become the highest-grossing musical tour of all time, anticipated to exceed more than $1 billion in revenue.
Impressed by all the fans’ cowboy hats, glittery ball gowns, friendship bracelets and disco ball costumes on display 🤠 pic.twitter.com/cjbO7LpsRo
— Katie Lauer (@_katielauer) July 28, 2023
In the past week, stadium officials and Santa Clara police had warned that tailgating — or Taylor-gating — would not be allowed in the nearby parking lots, immediately disappointing ticketless fans that were planning to congregate outside the venue to enjoy snippets of the sold-out, three-hour concert, as thousands have done before them along other stops of the Eras Tour.
But that hullabaloo didn’t deter local Swifties. Ticketless Bay Area fans mingled with those waiting to get in, despite the warnings, either willing to risk the trouble to experience the special occasion or taking to heart the urging of Santa Clara City Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe, who argued the city could not realistically (or legally) enforce a ban along public streets near Levi’s.
At midafternoon, police were busy with traffic control, and little else.
Shortly after 4 p.m., Rebecca Burton was one of the first fans with general admission tickets to make it inside Levi’s Stadium.
The 23-year-old, who traveled three hours from Pismo Beach and was the first one to line up along Tasmin Drive at noon, was shocked that she didn’t have to wait longer.
“We thought we were showing up late!” Burton said. “But when we got to this gate, there was no one else here, so we made our own line.”
No matter how or why they were there, fans young and old were buzzing with excitement ahead of the show.
Seats inside Amtrak, Caltrain and VTA trains were abnormally chock full of fans gushing about the songs they hoped to hear, while some concertgoers even flew into town for the occasion and received a complementary “Fly SJC” bracelets upon arrival.
April, Cydney, Lilly and Bella Crain trekked down from their home Sacramento on a packed Amtrak train Friday afternoon, taking advantage of the last-minute opportunity to refresh their makeup — complete with Swift’s signature bright red lipstick.
Listening to Swift’s music became a bonding experience for the family over the years, as each of them were able to connect with the now-33-year-old’s sweeping lyrics as they grew up. While April Crain, 41, estimated that she likely paid nearly $1,000 for the tickets, outfits and beads for the tour’s ever-popular friendship bracelets, she said the opportunity to see Swift with her 20-, 18- and 14-year-old daughters this weekend was priceless.
“Taylor’s Reputation Tour was (Lilly’s) first concert, and it was the first one that we’d ever gone to altogether,” April Crain said. “But as she’s getting ready to leave for San Jose for college, neither of us can listen to her song ‘Never Grow Up’ off the “Speak Now” album right now.”
“It’s our cry song,” Lilly added.
Staff writer Jason Green contributed to this report. Check back for updates.
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