Let me draw a scene. It’s December 2015, AAMI Park, Melbourne. This is a big stadium where sports things happen, as carried out by people who have thick jaws, make dubious life-choices, yet have impressive co-ordination skills.
But not tonight. Tonight, AAMI Park is filled with women between the ages of 6 and 66, as well as a handful of middle-aged men auditioning for the role of “beleaguered Dad”, and many of my favourite local homosexuals.
AAMI Park is packed to the gills for an event that we’ve all been waiting for. We’ve had our tickets to this concert for a YEAR. You know when you see artists put out tickets a year in advance and you go, “really? You think you’ll still be popular in a year?” Well, in this case, the answer is “of course I will be, I’m Taylor motherfucking Swift.”
And fair enough, Taylor motherfucking Swift.
For a year now, we’ve been clutching these hot tickets in our sweaty little paws, preparing our gaping maws for some roars and guffaws, the sort of sound that will lift AAMI Park into the air in a way it has never been lifted before by a sport event, or so says this bitter dweeb.
Taylor presents a wholly satisfying show, featuring such highlights as lit-up wristbands, videos about white feminism, and a revolving walkway that I want to see speeded the fuck up.
We chair-dance our way through a lot of the concert, but we all know what we’re waiting for. There is one hit that is synonymous with Taylor Swift, and every six-year-old girl that is literally here or who is living inside one of us much older people is waiting for it.
We all know what’s going to happen with “Shake it Off”. It’s too big a hit to do early. It can’t even be the fake ending of the show. Of COURSE it’s going to be the encore. Taylor’s going to do some reliable crowd-pleaser like Bad Blood, fake an exit, and wait for us to bray ravenously for her blood unless she comes back out to deliver The Hit.
She lives off these wounded animal cries of deep desire. They keep her fed when she runs out of chia seed and amaranth granules.
Taylor lets us warble desperately a little longer, while she changes into the most triumphant unitard she owns. Our small group of my sister, her wife and myself wait patiently. We know what’s happening. No point braying about it. Let the hoi polloi run their throats ragged. We have some $6.00 Twisties to eat.
And while I eat, I notice something around me. Families are streaming out of the arena in great swathes. Mouths are set in tough lines as mothers and fathers drag children who don’t know any better out of the stadium.
And I just think: what’s the conversation going to be like in the car?
Kid: Why didn’t Taylor sing “Shake it Off?”
Parent: Because she saw you were in the crowd, and she hates you.
Fair enough, parents. Lie to your kid, get home by Lateline. Good work.
But after this quite reasonable sighting, I was exposed to another type of early-exiter, one I’m still trying to understand. These are the families who waited for Taylor Swift to re-emerge onstage, like some glamorous annoying peacock, waited for her to start singing her HUGEST HIT, and then, the moment that GODDAMN FIREWORKS STARTED EXPLODING is when they dragged their kids out of the stadium.
I’m wracking my brain to work out the reasoning they give their kids in the car:
“I know that you might think you want to hear your favourite artist sing the biggest hit of last year live, with pyrotechnics and screaming. But you know what’s even better than that? Getting into the car park exit queue 5 minutes before everyone else. You get a real smooth line down Punt Road. We’ll be home in ten minutes flat, so you barely have to wait to cry yourself to sleep.”