A Little Bit of Joy
(and Mendes and HAIM, of course)
A Review of the Opening Acts of Swift's Stop at Gillette Stadium
T-shirt in hand and binoculars around my neck, I hopped into the car two hours before my first concert. Before pulling my t-shirt on, I examined it proudly. In hopes that it would catch the eye of a concert employee, I had spent a solid hour drawing the short blond hair, blue eyes, and classic red lips that have come to define Taylor Swift. The day before, Tumblr had informed me of something crazy: Swift’s employees could possibly be on the lookout for especially dedicated fans to invite to Loft ‘89, where they would meet the popstar herself.
A short while later, my sister and I watched Shawn Mendes, the first of Swift’s three opening acts, run on stage with his guitar. His appearance was slightly random. There were no grand fireworks, no sudden blackout to signal that the concert was about to start. However, his confidence and perfectly on-pitch voice eased the audience into a concert mood. It was easy to see why Swift selected him as the starting act for her concert.
Mendes left the stage, and the stage crew began to set up for the next act, Australian Vance Joy. The wait was long, probably around twenty minutes, and I started to fidget. I had been listening to Joy’s 2014 album, Dream Your Life Away, on repeat for several months and was extremely excited to hear him live. Finally, Joy stepped on stage. Unlike Mendes, who only accompanied his voice with a guitar, Joy brought a drummer on stage with him. Like Mendes, however, Joy’s live voice sounded exactly like the studio version. Few people paid attention, however, until his last and most well-known song, “Riptide”.
The night was dark when Swift’s last opening act, HAIM, entered the scene. The three singers of HAIM, all sisters, added energy to the night with their electric guitars, drums, and confident voices. However, the audience seemed not to know how to react to the crazy rock band atmosphere created by HAIM. Instead of singing along and dancing to the music, most people around me wriggled in their seats and exchanged glances when one of the sisters started to move passionately with the music by dropping her jaw and shaking her torso. Seeing her fan’s reactions, I at first wondered why Swift chose HAIM as an act. However, I soon saw that Swift had made a smart move putting HAIM as the last opening performance. Despite their confidence, Mendes and Joy had acted slightly awkwardly on stage. They had not completely owned the stage, had not filled it with the sort of raw passion that ignites a crowd. Meanwhile, HAIM had the magic touch that solicited and obtained reactions. Regardless of whether or not most enjoyed the performance, it created the hot, buzzing tension that one should feel before the appearance of a global superstar.