Bracelets and Breakdowns: Taylor Swift live in Kansas City (with photo gallery)

Photo of Taylor Swift by Erica Vining

Taylor Swift w/ MUNA and Gracie Abrams | 07.07.23, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City


I’ve always had an odd fascination with acronyms, turning every parking lot license plate into hilariously off-key statements and singing songs completely in lettered code. It’s a talent, I swear. Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium on the 7th satisfied my acronym addiction in ways I never thought possible, with 55,000 “Swifties” packing the venue sporting thousands of abbreviation- laced friendship bracelets. Exchanging friendship bracelets is a common theme at Taylor Swift concerts, and I found myself completely unprepared for how seriously the tradition is taken. Friendship was a prevailing theme for the night, and no one was off limits as bracelets were tossed at police, venue staff, a service animal, and even Swift herself.

Our trek to Taylor began the night before as we journeyed to Columbia, MO, from our Southern Illinois home. The trip was eventful: I met several Swifties in fuel stations on the way and even made a new friend in the form of a terrified mole that made its way into the gas station bathroom. I rescued the poor guy from my screaming kids and relocated him outside to the horror of the attendant. (And now I’m secretly googling if I can have a mole as a pet because who knew they were so fluffy? Don’t tell my husband.) Friday started early as we headed into Kansas City to the stadium. Parking was surprisingly easy—shoutout to the venue staff who kept things moving despite a sold-out crowd. I spent the time before the gates opened “Tay-gating” and enjoying the outfits and performances being put on in the parking lot. My all-black attire was out of place among waves of pastel, but that didn’t stop anyone from approaching me and sharing the bracelet love.

Gracie Abrams took the stage right at 6:30 to cheers of elation from the packed stadium. The daughter of filmmaker J.J. Abrams, Gracie has worked to forge her own successful career in the entertainment industry. Abrams released her first single, “Mean It,” in 2019 and has since released several more singles, two EPs, and her first full length studio album, Good Riddance, which dropped in February of this year. Her short but sweet set opened with “Where do we go now?” from her full-length album. She played through six songs, leaving her spot at the back of the stage to venture down the walkway to the crowd several times. She sported a white cropped shirt featuring a bedazzled “Speak Now,” a nod to her friend Swift’s re-release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), which debuted that day. Her short-but-memorable set concluded with “I Miss You, I’m Sorry,” a power ballad about a breakup.

MUNA took the stage following Abrams, and I was not prepared for the powerhouse trio out of California. I was immediately captivated by their energy and stage presence. Vocalist Katie Gavin and guitarist Josette Maskin at times appeared to be playing a show for themselves, completely unaware of the massive crowd around them. Gavin and Maskin, along with multi-instrumentalist Naomi McPherson, perform primarily as a trio but added a drummer and bassist for the Eras Tour. Gavin commands attention with her fiery red hair, the trio would fit perfectly at a rock concert despite their electro-pop sound. The set opened with “What I Want” off their self-titled album MUNA, which was released last year. Maskin sprinted downstage with her black Fender Stratocaster with Maskin following shortly after. The two spent a couple songs traveling between downstage left and right before making their way back to their band members and coming together for a seductive solo. The eight-song set ended entirely too soon, with MUNA becoming an immediate “add to playlist” band for me.

Fans were energetic coming out of MUNA’s performance, with bracelets being delivered and an impressive wave making several laps through the stands before dying out. Just before Swift was expected, the digital stage board shifted to a countdown clock, which caused mass hysteria among fans. As the clock expired, the stage opened up and several dancers began their trek to mid stage holding what look like giant watercolor parachute petals. (I’m not great with words sometimes, check the photo gallery out to see what I’m talking about.) The dancers come together into a circle, floating their petals over one another for a beat before lifting them to reveal the star of the night, Taylor Swift. Her opening outfit was a gorgeous glittery sequined blue and pink body suit that will live rent free in my head forever. The outfits of the night deserve an entire exhibit on their own—Swift’s stylist and designers got it absolutely right with her wardrobe for the Eras Tour.

Swift opened the night with a mashup of “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” and “Cruel Summer” to the screams of 55,000 people. There were times through the show where I couldn’t even hear Swift over the crowd singing every word to her songs. This was one of those times. Swift’s smile showed excited adoration for her fans, and several times through the night tears were spotted in her eyes. A raised platform propelled Swift above the crowd for the first two songs before lowering her back to mid-stage, where she visited fans on both sides of the crowd. Some well-placed bursts from the fog machines added to the dramatic element, and I was burst shooting photos at this point because I didn’t want to forget a second of her performance. She ended “Cruel Summer” making her way up the stage to where her dancers placed a stunning silver jeweled peacoat on her in preparation for “The Man.” A power ballad about the struggles of being female in the workforce, this song has always been a favorite of mine. Swift’s dancers add so much to the show with their exaggerated reactions and true artistry that “The Man” was more musical theater than concert performance. Displaying superhuman stamina, Swift sang and danced her way up three sets of stairs without missing a beat before taking her place firmly on the desk with her legs propped on the railing. This is one of her more well-known moments from the show, and it was glorious to photograph.

Swift made her way gracefully through the first Era of the tour, Lover, with six songs and a lot of crowd engagement. She moved Swiftly (see what I did there?) into her Fearless era, which gave us one of my favorite songs, “You Belong with Me.” Outfit changes were abundant through the night. Swift introduced her new keys player Karina DePiano, and I felt like this woman was destined for piano greatness at birth with that name. Fearless progressed into evermore after three songs, which saw Swift openly crying during “champagne problems” and speaking passionately to her fans in appreciation. This era had an absolutely beautiful set with an ivy- laden grand piano and branching trees overhead. Several more outfit changes occurred and suddenly we were at the reputation era, which was shockingly sensual with amazing accompaniment by her dance team. The reputation outfit is the one seen round the world; I’m hoping I can amazon my own version for this Halloween. (Stay tuned.) “Look What You Made Me Do” gave us all of Swifts dancers in plastic cages dressed like the crooner, with one descending from the sky. I’ve always enjoyed the song, but the performance was probably my favorite of the night.

reputation moved into Speak Now and Swift performed a crowd favorite, “Enchanted.” Speak Now (Taylor’s version) released the night of the show, so this was a high energy era for the crowd. Vibrant purples highlighted the stage and Swift glowed in a soft pink ballgown. Speak Now moved into the Red era with a shocking yellow stage. (Kidding, of course. No one actually looks good in yellow…although if anyone can pull it off, it’s Taylor.) Red ended with “All Too Well” and transitioned to folklore,which opened with spoken poetry and yet another new set. This one featured Swift on the roof of a quaint cabin. I’ve already given the award for favorite song of the night, but this was definitely my favorite set. 1989 followed with some fun surprises, including the debut of her music video “I Can See You” featuring one of her famous ex-boyfriends (hint: they share a name). Following the video, Swift brought said ex, Taylor Lautner, as well as Joey King and Presley Cash on stage with her. Lautner vaulted down the runway, throwing backflips that had me terrified for his safety and jealous of his flexibility.

Swift closed the show with Midnights, which debuted late last year and commercially was a huge success (shocker). Each stop on the Eras tour has gotten a new set of surprise songs, with Kansas City night 1 being blessed with “Never Grow Up” and “When Emma Falls in Love” from Speak Now. Each fan in attendance received a light up bracelet that was activated through the show at certain times, creating an interactive experience for everyone in attendance. Fog, fire, and confetti dazzled fans. I left the show with a newfound love for Taylor Swift and some incredible new memories. TYSMFETILY. | Erica Vining


  1. Erica,
    You did a fantastic job both with photography and writing an amazing review of the Taylor Swift concert.
    Both your Mom and Grandmother have both told me you can always exceed everyone’s expectations!
    They are absolutely correct. Congratulations on an outstanding piece of work…………..and you had fun doing it. Continue to live the best life.

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