Last week, I finally got to visit the brand new, state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Although, it wasn’t for the reason I had hoped. The Falcons were playing — just in another city. I was there for the first of two back-to-back concerts by Taylor Swift.
To say I felt out of place would be an understatement. There weren’t many other 40-year-old men in the audience. In fact, I think I may have been the only person in the building with a shirt that covered my midsection. But I gotta hand it to Taylor, she’s bringing moms and daughters together by the thousands. She has this thing at her shows that you can be rewarded for your fandom by getting upgraded to seats right by the stage. So, for every teenage girl that was dressed in some sort of outlandish Taylor Swift outfit, there was a 40-something mom behind her dressed exactly the same way.
Before the show, I got invited to a “radio vibe room” … I know; sounds weird to me, too. Basically, it’s a backstage area where a bunch of radio programmers and guests hang out and talk to Taylor. Yes, it sounds like a meet-and-greet, but I was corrected on several occasions: It’s not a meet-and-greet; it’s a “radio vibe room.” There were no autographs given, no interviews, just a few minutes to chat with Taylor about whatever comes up and one picture, which, honestly, is better than a meet-and-greet where they come out, sign a bunch of stuff, take a picture, then move along like an assembly line.
When artists get to a certain level, they don’t do meet-and-greets. They don’t have to. Taylor, being pretty much the biggest pop star there is right now, definitely has no need to do any meet-and-greets or “vibe rooms” or any of it. As a matter of fact, the whole ‘radio sleaze-ball groping her’ incident would have been the perfect excuse for her to say “You know what? I’m done.” But, at each concert, she still does a little something special for her fan club, and she always shows love to radio. Case in point: This was the fourth time I’ve met her. Each time, she’s been equally as gracious and genuine.
I don’t tell you this to brag. I tell you this because it deserves to be told. In this world of mentioning artists or celebrities only when they do something bad, they also deserve credit when they do something awesome. Taylor’s backstage areas or “vibe rooms” are widely known throughout the radio industry. But maybe not as known outside of our industry. This, to me, proves that she’s not doing it for appearances. Maybe she actually, genuinely appreciates what radio has done for her career. That, to me, is really, really cool.
Afterward, my daughter and I found our seats and enjoyed one of the greatest shows I’ve seen in a very long time. There was enough pyro to rival many rock shows. She played several instruments, actually sang (no lip-syncing) and covered the entire floor of the stadium, whether on a flying platform or walking through a sea of her fans giving high-fives and saying “thank you.” She wanted to make sure everyone at the show felt like they got close to her, to make a connection. Impressive, considering there was roughly 80,000 people in that joint. At one point, I even posted in my Snapchat story that Taylor was “kinda bad-ass.” I stand by that quote.
From our seats, my daughter rocked out to every song: hair flying everywhere, arms in the air, singing along to every word. I’d say she had a great time. We may have gotten a few strange looks but I don’t really care. If you’re gonna do it, do it big. Taylor obviously feels the same way.