Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour shows in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati were Swiftie heaven

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Perhaps the most unexpected consequence of Taylor Swift’s passage through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati was the fashion that bloomed in both cities.

These were not just concerts. They were Taylor Swift conventions — ComicCon for Swifties. One man walked around asking his fellow fans to sign his shirt — each Sharpie color chosen according to the signer’s favorite album. Other men — and there were not many of them — wore shirts saying “It’s me, hi, I’m the dad/husband/boyfriend, it’s me.”

“I support my girlfriend’s Taylor Swift obsession,” read another man’s shirt. More than one couple arrived in complementary outfits: “Karma is my boyfriend” on the lady, “I’m Karma” on the gentleman.

Many fans also exchanged friendship bracelets at the event, a practice those in the know will recognize from Swift’s “You’re on your own, kid.”

Morgan Anderson's friendship bracelets [ Madelyn Anderson | WOUB ]
Morgan Anderson’s friendship bracelets [ Morgan Anderson | WOUB ]
After a “Hunger Games”-esque ticket-buying experience, fans in the region can finally say they survived “The Great War” (that’s a Swift song). Those who did not emerge triumphant from the fiasco that was Ticketmaster in November 2022 tailgated and listened from outside the stadium.

Unlike most concerts, where an artist mixes songs from their most recent album with a scattering of greatest hits, “The Eras Tour” goes through fan-favorites from each of Swift’s albums (or eras) in order. The arrangement brings fans the many moods and genres that Swift has touched throughout her career without provoking the tonal whiplash of hopping back and forth between past and present.

Swift’s discography has always remained superior in our books, and her concert reaffirmed that for us. She opened her setlist in both cities with “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” the stadium echoing with a pre-taped remix of the lyric “It’s been a long time coming.” It truly has been a long time coming for Swift, who hasn’t toured since 2018.

If there’s one thing Swift can do, it’s put on a show. From the visuals on the screen to the dancers and the props, her performances put us in a trance. As Swifties at heart, we were reminded of the “1989 World Tour,” which we both attended (separately) as middle schoolers in 2015.

Fans attending “Eras” suffer equal parts excitement and fear due to Swift’s decision to add “surprise songs” to each setlist — totally unpredictable acoustic numbers that change with each show. Swift only repeats songs if she makes a mistake while playing it or if it’s a song from “Midnights.” Every concert is a different experience, which we found thrilling when we heard one of our favorites and disappointing when we found out what we missed from another night.

Each of the two authors attended a different “Eras Tour” show. Arielle went to night two of Pittsburgh on June 17, and Morgan went to night one of Cincinnati on June 30. Each author reviews her respective show below.


Swift’s Saturday concert took place in Acrisure Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and outplaced Friday’s with 73,000 fans — the highest-attended event in the city’s history. Swift said breaking the record made her feel like “The Man” and the crowd rejoiced.

Aaron Dessner treated us to a surprise appearance, in which he played the piano on the first surprise song, “seven” — a personal favorite of mine. The second surprise song, to the delight of the audience, was “The Story of Us” from “Speak Now.” With the upcoming release of Taylor’s version of “Speak Now,” many fans are eager to hear more songs from that album.

Arielle Lyons stands in Acrisure Stadium with her "Lover"-inspired outfit.
Arielle Lyons stands in Acrisure Stadium with her “Lover”-inspired outfit. [ Danielle Otto | WOUB ]
“Don’t Blame Me” into “Look What You Made Me Do” and the ethereal performance of “august” were the highlights of the main setlist.

A highlight for the wrong reason was the merchandise situation. My friends and I made the mistake of not coming to the stadium as soon as the gates opened. Upon entering, we saw the merch line spiraling endlessly around the building. If there were more than three places to buy merch, we never found them, and not even the stadium employees could enlighten us — a bit surprising for a concert of this size.

We finally found a seemingly shorter merch line a little before 6:00 p.m. By the time we got out (with our t-shirts, thankfully), we were sprinting to our seats so as not to miss the start of the show at 8:00 p.m. Had we gotten in line two minutes later, we would’ve missed it.

As it was, we were exhausted when the show started. I almost never sit down during concerts, but because we had been standing for two hours straight before it began, my friends and I frequently had to give our legs a break.

If you plan on seeing a future show, I recommend either getting there the day before the concert when the truck arrives, sprinting to the merch tables as soon as the gates open or skipping “tis the damn season” and getting your merch then.

Although I reflect sadly on all the people behind me in line that missed the beginning of the concert (there were probably hundreds), my long wait time did not sour the experience. My friends and I had nonstop fun during the show and used the time after to relax and take pictures before we got kicked out. The entire performance was an exercise in complete and utter Swiftie-ism, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


The Queen City became the queen of pop’s city for two nights, with many dubbing it “SwiftCinnati” for the weekend.

Swift’s mark on the city was evident. In true Swiftie fashion, more than 65,000 people watched from inside the Paycor Stadium, home of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. The Cincinnati Reds had moved their Friday night game time up to avoid a direct clash with the pop icon’s three-hour setlist. To say Swift won the evening for fans would be an understatement.

But it wouldn’t be Ohio without unpredictable weather, and thunderstorms were projected for most of Friday night’s concert. However, the storms held off for the night and merely foreshadowed what was to come the next day. Swift typically begins her setlist at 8 p.m. with a countdown set to “Applause” by Lady Gaga, but for Saturday’s showing, she moved her start time up to 7 p.m. to avoid the rain.

City businesses were prepared for the onslaught of fans. When I was checking in at the front desk at our hotel, I had to sign an “excessive glitter contract” for our room. If the hotel cleaning services had to do extra work because they found glitter in our room, they would charge a $250 fee. Kudos to them for planning ahead.

Morgan Anderson inside Paycor stadium before her concert.
Morgan Anderson inside Paycor stadium before her concert. [ Madelyn Anderson | WOUB ]
Getting lost on the way to the venue was pretty much impossible, thanks to the flock of glittery pink teenage girls leading the way. We arrived about 45 minutes early, well behind the early birds who had waited since 4 a.m. Despite our relative tardiness, we got into the stadium with plenty of time to spare — unlike my poor colleague in Pittsburgh.

Speaking of Arielle, I was mentally preparing myself for the worse when it came to snagging my long-awaited Swift crewneck. To my surprise, however, I lucked out again. Because we were so quick to get inside the stadium, my sister and I made a dash for the merch booth and were among the first 100 people in line. My dark blue “Eras Tour” crewneck is now one of my most prized possessions. 

Swift’s setlist was easy to predict for anyone who has been listening to it on Apple Music. What I couldn’t prepare for was her first surprise song — an acoustic version of “I’m Only Me When I’m With You,” one of a rare handful of tracks she has played from her debut album over this tour. It eclipsed her second surprise song, a solo piano rendition of the title track from “evermore,” which I can only describe as “fine.”

I was perfectly content with the surprise songs I got until I found out the miraculous gift Night Two attendees received: after opening the show, Gracie Abrams came back out to perform her hit “I miss you, I’m sorry” as a duet with Swift herself. Aaron Dessner, a Cincinnati native, reappeared after Pittsburgh for “ivy,” another “evermore” track, and then Swift offered an astonishing third surprise song with “Call It What You Want” from her 2017 album “reputation.” Fans who elected to attend Friday’s performance were left feeling bitter, if not unloved.

Nevertheless, the last aftertaste of the Cincinnati “Eras” concert is one of enchantment. The beauty of being a Swiftie is that we’ve grown up right next to Swift herself, and going to her concert is like thumbing through a shared photo album. Every era of our own lives was in the air that night.