Fair warning: This is a Taylor Swift post. I mean, I kind of made a resolution not to be super fangirly on this blog anymore, but look, I’m not gonna lie, everything is Taylor Swift right now. She just announced a whole bunch of new music-related stuff a couple of days ago, a thing that hasn’t happened for over two years,
and a new album means I’ve got to create new artwork and I’m still overwhelmed and now way way behind not to mention it was TSPH’s sixth anniversary last Wednesday (yo I have been working on/for this fansite for SIX YEARS now. What!!!), and as you might have already guessed, I am emotionally invested in things like these. Unabashedly invested. So my feelings are all over the place. I can’t just shake them off. (That was a terrible pun. I’m sorry.)
But I’m not here to talk about all of that. I am here to talk about this thing I found three nights ago, this absolute glorious gift to humanity that is a compilation of clear audio recordings from the full setlist of The Red Tour in Japan. Guys. I kid you not. This is the best thing ever. Ever. I love it so much that I’m gonna go ahead and misuse literality to prove my point, which is to say that this is the kind of music that literally takes you there. To a Taylor Swift concert. When I put my earphones on and closed my eyes and played this, I was back there in my seat at the Mall of Asia Arena last June 6.
Big Machine doesn’t have plans of ever releasing a legit Red Tour CD/DVD (and I still don’t understand why, when they could make so much money out of it) so it’s the closest thing we could get to a near-professional, clean recording, but personally I think I even like this compilation better than a studio-processed set, because it still sounds raw. Like, I could still hear Taylor missing some notes, and being out of breath due to dancing, but I like that. It’s nearer to actuality. It really sounds like, well, Taylor Swift live. I have obviously been listening to it for days now and every listen is still AHDFLSFJGLDFEELZ.
So a universe of thanks goes out to the presumably Japanese person who thought of saving the in-ear recordings from Taylor’s Tokyo concert, and whatever life plot twist made those recordings go to the hands of this blogger who could have kept it to herself but for some reason decided to remaster it and share it to the world, for free, and whatever stroke of luck that caused me to find it and download it to my iPod and listen to it and henceforth forevermore cry over it. I didn’t even know how desperately I wanted a Red Tour Asia live compilation until I found this. So I am super giddy that I did. (But, like, imagine if there are in-ear recordings of the Manila show that exist somewhere! Or the last Singapore show where she sang Long Live! Gah. I would trade my soul for that.)
If I am to take you back to the night I got my hands on that compilation, I honestly didn’t really think it would be that good, so I (stupidly) started listening to it while I was already tucked in bed, ready to sleep. Sure enough, State of Grace was a little rough, but man, by the time I got to the Holy Ground drums part, I was already sitting up, overcome with goosebumps all over, and when the first strums of Red played, I was a goner. At 22 I was already on my feet, jumping up and down and dancing beside my bed like a madwoman. At 1:53 AM. With the lights off.
This is my life, you guys.
Like, you know how cool people have awesome bands they fall for and worship and shit? Whose music takes them to a whole new level, a different place, a higher state of being? Well that’s Taylor Swift for me. You could argue that that just means I don’t listen to a lot of music, and that’s true, I really don’t. I’m more bookish. But that isn’t meant to belittle Taylor’s talent. She could write words that speak to the depths of my soul, she is a genuinely nice person (and I met her so I would know), and she is amazeballs. You argument is invalid.
Well, admittedly my ways are no longer as obsessive as they once were, but listening to her music will always resurrect two girls in me — that fifteen-year-old who found her heart in the lyrics of the Fearless album, and that seventeen-year-old who had the best night of her life when Taylor Swift hugged her that fateful day in February. And three nights ago I discovered that another girl joins the club — that twenty-year-old who had a blast dancing at the Mall of Asia arena one June Friday.
So if you’re a Taylor Swift fan who wants to discover what it’s like to hear The Red Tour live, or one who just wants to be taken back to that experience, you need to listen to this compilation. Seriously. It’s EXCELLENT. Her acoustic sets, and the arrangement of I Knew You Were Trouble, and of course, All Too Well… Well. I don’t need to say more, do I?
You’re welcome, and good luck with the pool of feelings you will soon drown in.
(Oh, and if you happen to be interested to know more about my Red Tour experience, and don’t mind reading an awful lot of probably unnecessary storytelling, click through the jump.)
You know, I already decided I won’t blog in detail about that June day, having been okay with purely writing about it in my journal. Maybe it’s because in many, many ways, I had a better experience during the Speak Now Tour in 2011 and I don’t wanna write a buzzkill-sounding post. Obviously, I met her then and I didn’t this year, so the slight disappointment is a given, but more than that, the organization and promotion and execution of the Red Tour Manila was just a giant UGH, BV, and… yeah. No. I manned the official local fansite, so I was privy to such insider info, and trust me, we’re all better off not going back to all that.
But, like, I can’t just italically emphasize dancing back there^ (um, is italically even a word? LOL) and not gush about it. Besides, this was morphing into a Red Tour post anyway. Might as well go a little into what I remember with every re-loop of The Gift To Humanity Audio Compilation.
The one thing I loved most about my Red Tour experience was that it was very, for the lack of a better term, internal. I was with (very awesome, and much, much missed) friends, but I felt quite detached too, like I was more inside my head than interacting with the rest of the world. For one thing, I started the day very alone — I prepared my stuff alone, went to the airport alone, and sat through the entire flight alone, and of course went back the next day alone as well, so the alone feeling lingered the entire time. (Fun fact: It was my first time to ever fly alone! And no offense to my previous flight companions, but I kind of prefer flying alone now? Well, except for the thought that should a plane crash happen, I wouldn’t have a loved one to hold on to. That would suck abominably.) For another, it was my second time to go to a concert, so I knew what to expect, and therefore had a better grip on how I was going to react. I could think straight, organize feelings better. And I say that I loved all of that because, well, I do like being alone, and I don’t know, there’s just something special about an experience I can call entirely mine. Unlike my first time, which I felt I needed to publicly rant about because it was INSANE in an out-of-this-world, is-this-even-real-life level, this one was something I could hold dear to my heart privately.
But I feel like sharing now, and let’s therefore get back to the dancing. My mission last February 2011, those who read The Longest Rant About a Concert Ever Posted would recall, was to commit every moment to memory so I may be able to remember it for as long as I live, and to touch Taylor Swift’s hair. Both of which I accomplished. This time, my self-appointed mission was to just live in the moment and have a blast, and do the stuff I wasn’t able to last time. (There was still, of course, the almost-journalistic duty of having to update TSPH. But more on that later.)
I didn’t take a lot of pictures or videos and didn’t try to make mental notes of anything to be posted or shared later; I just drank the experience in, as it was, at present. Remember how I said I was inside my head the whole time? Well I was literally ticking off instructions in my mind: If you have to take pictures, just take brain pictures. Give yourself twenty seconds of every song to update TSPH, but after that, put everything away. Don’t even dare waste precious seconds looking at Taylor behind a gadget screen when she is right in front you. You have no responsibility beyond being in this moment, and by God, DANCE.
See, at the Speak Now tour, I was in the moshpit, right by the side of the stage, squished from the number of people pushing forward to grab Taylor. So there wasn’t much space to move around. And it was, as I said before, INSANE, and I wouldn’t trade that spot for anything, but with all honesty, what I had perfect view of was mostly Taylor’s butt. Yeah. But this time, I was seated well (not that I sat down much) at a section fronting the stage, with a good view of everything — both the stages, all the set pieces, and the entire arena. Plus I had plenty of space to move around so it was comfortable. (There were a LOT of empty seats in front of us, and I am never not going to be mad about that, because those were such good seats that so many deserving fans could have occupied had ticket sales been done properly! Gah.)
So naturally, what followed were the two words I can use to sum up the whole experience: I DANCED. I put my hair up in a ponytail and just let go. I danced in an arena full of several thousand people the way I’d danced alone in my room during my Pathetic Single Person Taylor Swift Dance Parties. It helped, of course, that Taylor’s Red Tour setlist had more dance-y bits. And that she herself danced so much. (Still not good, hahaha, but she improved lots! And her confidence and stage presence were so much more felt this time around. She’s just truly a phenomenal performer. No other way to put it.) I have actually watched a couple of videos on YouTube taken by someone who was seated behind us, and it’s rather embarrassing to see how many times my profile was seen thrusting her left arm upwards. Just sort of fist-pumping with her left arm, only her hand wasn’t in a fist; her fingers were stretched out. I do not understand what I was doing. It would have made sense if I was holding a light stick to wave around, but I wasn’t, so it looked… I don’t even know. All I remember was my mindset, Whatever, I’m going to dance! I’m not leaving this arena not covered in sweat! Ielle, who was to my left, even told me afterwards that I was dancing to All Too Well. Dancing to All Too Well. DANCING. To ALL TOO WELL. Hahaha omigod. In fact, the term she used was “gangster-dancing.” Gangster. Dancing. To All Too Well. I can’t even— That just sounds so wrong on so many levels. I don’t even know how “gangster dancing” is supposed to look! Hahaha. I’m a Stiff, okay. I’m all protruding elbows and skinny extremities with poor motor coordination, so can you imagine what the hell I was doing?!? To an emotional slow piano song, too! Oh God. (#THUGLIFE) But, like, whatevs, cus I was having fun! I was also singing (off-key, you betcha) and screaming at the top of my lungs, because I don’t know, the crowd didn’t seem to be loud and participative enough so I felt I had to be extra enthusiastic. (Apologies to the people within the general vicinity because I really didn’t give a flying fuck how annoying I moved or sounded.)
Our seats were not the nearest, but I was still able to see Tay up close when she got to the B-stage (because we ran forward; concert security still sux balls), and good heavens, the woman still did not look real. Porcelain skin and long legs and glowing aura? All still present. Perfection still present. Ang ganda-ganda pa din niya. Ugh. (People should not be allowed to look as flawless as that!) And in fairness to me, the twinge of jealousy I felt when I looked at the fans at the moshpit and the aisle, close enough for their cameras to zoom to her flawless pores, close enough for them to touch her if she reached out, was just that — a twinge. I was ridiculously happy for them, mostly. It was their time. And I was okay with it.
So yeah, by the time we got back to the hotel, post-concert, past-midnight, the back of my ankles were already scraped raw from rubbing against my sneakers due to all the jumping and dancing, my overworked throat was killing me, and I looked like a trashed racoon*, but it was very much mission accomplished. 🙂
I could stop here, because this post has gone on long enough, but I guess I owe a special mention to Spinnr Philippines, sponsor of the fantastic Patron tickets for five of us officers. (We also got free lunch from them at TGI Fridays, plus a makeover. The lady who worked on me apparently didn’t get what “light” make-up meant, and thoughts of my overly painted face last June 6 still makes me cringe to this day. That’s my one regret: getting on that make-up chair. I never had the chance to find a restroom and wash it off until it was too late to.) We helped promote their contests on our page, so we got fancy tickets in exchange for the work, and in exchange for that, we were asked to promote them some more. Mostly in the form of hashtagging #SpinnrTaylorSwift in our tweets. We had to get it to a million mentions. And tbh I always seemed to forget to do it (I was loyal to our hashtag #REDTourMNL to a fault, lol), so Ielle would be like, “Ate Nen, the hashtag!” because she’d get a text message whenever the Spinnr peeps would see a tweet of ours without the hashtag, and I’d be, “Shit, tama pala!” Sponsorship/promotion is cray-cray. But, I’m proud to say, in our (shortlived) moment of glory, a.k.a. the Live Tweeting of the Concert, #SpinnrTaylorSwift was in every single tweet. (Cus I copied and pasted it already. Hahaha.) Because of the whole “twenty seconds to post an update and then put the phone away and forget about it” situation, my plan of action was just: 1) Snap a photo (don’t stress over the quality, leave that to the profesh photographers), 2) Tweet it with the title of the song in all caps (hopefully conveying the intensity of the feelz through the caps), 3) Paste the hashtags, and 4) Post the tweet. That was it. Twenty seconds. And I did it. For every song. While still paying attention to the concert. (Well, okay, for every song except for All Too Well. Technically, I posted that tweet before the song even started, because I was not about to miss even a second of All Too Well. Not gonna happen.) I don’t even know how I did it, but I did it. (Special thanks to Alls’ powerbank, my Mary Sue, and Smart 3G!) And, like, after the concert was over and I was finally calm enough to check what the hell I posted, I found that there were around 600+ to 700+ retweets for every tweet I posted! WHAT EVEN HOW EVEN. (And #SpinnrTaylorSwift escalated to 2.5 million tweets or something like that. And the photos I took were already floating around different accounts without credit, but like, whatever.) I mean, our Twitter account was kind of popular, but not nearly at that level! (I remember when I got home after the Speak Now Tour I almost cried over seeing one tweet of mine getting 100+ retweets. And that was the most we had, just one tweet getting just a hundred retweets, and I already wanted to cry over it! Compare that to now…) Mind blown. But then again, I think I was just one of the very few who were actually there in the arena crazy enough to tweet through every single song, at real time, and the people who weren’t at the concert were looking for that? But I did owe that much to #TeamBahay, who I knew had to live vicariously through tweets and a livestream because they couldn’t go. TSPH wasn’t about to fail them. (And yes I take all of this seriously. Because I met Taylor Swift through all of this fansite mumbo jumbo and I’m forever indebted.)
And finally, (yes, I will stop yapping soon, don’t worry) I am going to tell you about the *trashed raccoon* thing. So, um, I cried so much at the last concert, if you remember, but I wasn’t planning on shedding tears at the second, because I’ve grown more composed. Or so I’d like to think. But gatdummit, Taylor Swift. Bbgurl seriously knows how to shoot an arrow straight to my heart. See, long story short, I thought of this fan project we could give to her, which was a compilation of Instagram photos and messages from Filipino fans printed out as small Polaroid-like prints. And I was proud of myself for thinking of it because Taylor likes Instagram (she stalks fans there) and Polaroids, and a project like it hasn’t been done before, so like, brilliant, right? Until the submissions piled up, that is. I then wanted to shoot myself in the head from that point. I kind of don’t want to remember that week, actually. I had to crop, combine, and layout over 1400 screenshots, while also fixing the captions that were too long or had grammatical errors, and let me tell you, that was the most intense amount of editing on Photoshop I have ever done in my life. And I had to work against a deadline, too! I missed days of journal writing because my fingers hurt too much to even hold a pen, and I was up til 2 AM editing, wondering why I even thought of it, why I was even doing it, why I was losing sleep over something I was not even paid to do, why I was doing something a rational person wouldn’t even attempt to do. The words “I love you Taylor” were right there in front of me on my laptop’s screen, as if in answer, but they felt meaningless by then. I’ve already read the same thing over and over and over in different declarations of fan support. I was sick of “I love you Taylor.” (How’s that for irony?) But yeah, I got it all done, because I had no choice, and it got printed and cut out (by the fab Alls) and put in a box which we gave to Kevin, a member of Taylor’s management team, before the concert. (Kevin, who called me Farsha, but whom I forgive because he was super hot and super nice. I still have his number and imagine what I can do with such a prized combination of digits…….) I love Taylor’s team, because they never fail to let you know how appreciative they are of your dedication as a fan. They’re always going, “Wow! That’s amazing! That must have taken a lot of work! Thank you so much!” and make you feel about ten feet tall even for just doing the little things. It could be an act, I know, but they looked genuinely sincere. Kevin was very much like that. He promised he would make sure the gift gets to “the right hands,” and so we were very thankful. He also teased that he might come back for us later (and took note of our seat numbers) but we doubted that he could, given how busy he looked, so of course we were thinking, “So that’s it…We’re not meeting her this time,” sadface, although we came into terms with that pretty quickly. So that was that, and I seriously just let that go.
Taylor Swift, in the middle of the concert, on her microphone, to a rapt audience of thousands, goes, “Kumusta? Manila… You know, we really love you. Everyone who’s on this stage, we really do. You are so giving, and so kind, and so creative! You are. And I have a lot of Instagram friends from the Philippines…” and I just lost it. Ielle and Alls and I just went crazy (us screaming “OH MY GOD YUNG PROJECT NATIN!!!!” would definitely be heard in a video somewhere, I know it), and I think I even pulled Alls’ hair in the commotion. And I sobbed. The whole of Mean, I sobbed. I thought of Kevin’s promise, so quickly fulfilled, and I sobbed. My mind flashed back to those nights of frustrated questioning and fingers hurting at 2 AM, and I sobbed. I looked in front of me, at Taylor Swift and her beautiful smile, and heard her beautiful words and felt her beautiful heart, and I sobbed.
A couple of video searches reveal that the rest of her speech went somewhat like this: “…and I have people who have sent me or given me gifts from Manila, from the Philippines… and they’ve been the most creative, beautiful, thoughtful gifts you could imagine! And I wanted to thank you for that.” Oh, Tay. You kill me.
It didn’t ever cross my mind as this was all happening that I had freaking mascara on the whole time (Thank you, free makeover! NOT.), which, of course, melted down my cheeks with my tears. I got so shocked back at the hotel hours later when looked in the mirror and boom! Mascara mess. Trashed racoon. And to think we spent maybe an hour or so outside the arena after the concert, in full view of the everyone heading home! *facepalm*
That sounds like an awful note to end this post on. Haha. I was happy, though! For obvious reasons. Plus we got to stalk Tay’s band and backup dancers at the hotel the next day and they were all super nice despite the fact that I know we were stalkerish and annoying, gawking at them while they were eating breakfast and all, and I got a picture with Caitlin (who was so cool and lovely) and Grant (who put his arm around me!!! Goodbye, ovaries!) and I’m so, so happy I got to meet them (because I didn’t at the first concert) and I’m gonna miss them so bad if they really won’t be part of Taylor’s backing band anymore. 🙁
Also, and this is really wonderfully weird: I unexpectedly went home from the concert with three new books! I met two online friends for the first time that afternoon, the adorbz Katty and the awesome Manong John, and they gave me books. I can’t even… I am so, so grateful and even more ashamed that I didn’t have anything to give them back! And that I was so flustered with everything going on that I think I must have behaved despicably. I suck. I hope I get to meet you guys (and the other friends I never got to say hi to) in different, calmer circumstances! And without a ridiculous amount of cosmetics + sweat on my face. Haha.
So, yeah. The End! Did you read through all that? Seriously? Thank you. You have supreme patience. It took over six hours to compose this post, so really, thank you. You may proceed with the goings on of your life now. :p