The 2016 Concert
Formula 1 US Grand Prix | October 22, 2016
Table of Contents
Once the lawn section started to fill out, families who opted to spread blankets in the middle to back section of the lawn fared better than those who attempted to navigate the crush of people in the front section where sight lines and breathing room were both tough to come by.
From the moment Taylor emerged from jets of colored fog to the drum snap of “New Romantics,” she commanded the huge festival-sized stage in front of her and projected every stalking step, shimmy and perfectly timed wink or hair flip out to the tens of thousands of fans gathered acres away on lawn seating. “Oh hi, Austin, Texas…Welcome to F1 weekend,” Taylor said, addressing the screaming masses with casual charm. Backed by a five piece band and four backup singers, she segued into “22” unleashing the first of several increasingly explosive fireworks displays that would augment her set. Then she dropped a bombastic rendition of “Blank Space” that began with a surprisingly lovely harmonized intro and an enthusiastic audience singalong. She encouraged the audience to “Let go of anything that’s stressing us, sing at the top of our lungs and scream when we need to scream,” and the crowd happily obliged throughout the show.
Taylor said the crowd for the show numbered 80’000 and gazing out across the massive throng that filled the field in the middle of the track, the figure seemed entirely plausible. The stage was flanked by a pair of massive screens with a third screen as the backdrop. Visual effects on the screens were relatively minimal throughout the show. Primarily, they served a practical purpose: to transmit the detailed gestures and expressions Taylor uses to conjure the many sides of her character to the huge crowd.
At one point, she strapped on an acoustic guitar and dipped into her back catalog, playing songs she said she usually leaves off her setlist, including one of her earliest hits “You Belong With Me.” Later she sat at a sparkly piano for a suite showcasing her raw talent as a musician and songwriter that included passionate renditions of “Sparks Fly,” her world premiere of “This Is What You Came For” and a mashup of “Enchanted” and “Wildest Dreams.”
Taylor mashed up “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and “Bad Blood” in a furious one-two punch that made you shudder for anyone forced to face her withering wrath, but she saved the best message for her haters for the end.
By the time the closing fireworks on the undeniable dance party of “Shake It Off” signaled the night’s close 80 minutes later, Taylor bid farewell as a smiling and thankful conquering hero. It might have been her sole public concert for the entire year, but with a crowd that ranks as one of her largest ever, it showed no drop off or rust from a star determined to remain one of the biggest names in music for a long time to come.