Taylor Swift takes Austin, F1 weekend by storm

The lights under the stage, the chatter of excited fans, the sun almost completely gone from sight. Lit-up bracelets and phones create a sea of white as the track music plays in the background, everyone waiting for the show to start. On the cool night of Oct. 22, fans from all over the world gathered to see one of the biggest acts ever perform at the Circuit of the Americas. Everything in the hours before just leading up to the moment when Taylor Swift herself takes the stage for the most anticipated performance in the history of Formula 1.

Though crowds for the show started pouring in at around 3 p.m., quite a few people came shuffling in only minutes before the show started, though nothing was missed, since Swift took the stage 30 minutes after the show was scheduled to begin. It was the typical Taylor Swift entrance, through the bottom of the stage on a lifting platform, appearing right before our eyes as the crowd became a sea of screams. Being the first, last and only show Swift has played in 2016, this group of a whopping 80,000 (almost a third of the F1 weekend’s record-high attendance numbers) had the honor to see the star perform a total of 15 legendary songs, including two mashups and a song she had never performed live before. The number of people who came out to see the concert even beat the crowd at her show in Sydney, Australia last year during her 1989 World Tour, with a crowd of 76,000.

Swift started the show off with “New Romantics,” a song she released as a single earlier this year off her 2014 album 1989. “Oh hi Austin, Texas!” Swift addressed the crowd during a pause in her opening song. “Welcome to F1 on a Saturday night!” The lit-up, flashing Superstage was at the very front of thousands, three different sections of “seating,” (virtually no one was sitting, even if they were able) all holding the adoring fans who had come miles to see Swift’s only concert of the year.

As the show progressed, fans danced, screamed and got lost in the music, passionately singing the words to their favorite songs, as well as older songs Swift played, including acoustic versions of “Fifteen” and “You Belong With Me,” a recent remix of her classic “Love Story,” and a piano version of “Sparks Fly.” Swift danced and famously flipped her hair throughout the hour-and-a-half long show, talking to everyone in the crowd as though they were her best friends, reacting to the lyrics in her songs as her fans love to (winking, raised eyebrows, a dramatic gasp here and there).

While the singer unfortunately had a cold, she remarked on it with a laugh, telling the crowd, “Of course you play one show … and you get a cold one time, and it’s before that one show. That’s the way life works,” before taking a quick tissue break to blow her nose and get back to the show. If she hadn’t shared this piece of information, there would be no way you could tell that Swift was sick, as her vocals were as strong and great as ever.

Toward the end of the show, Swift finished off strong, throwing in her piano version of “This Is What You Came For,” the Calvin Harris song the singer co-wrote under the pseudonym Nils Sjöberg. “I’ve never played this song live before,” Swift remarked, earning some screams from the crowd as she began to sing.

Finally Swift ended the night with her pop hit “Shake It Off,” asking the crowd “Do you want to dance?” Then followed by screams that translated as a “yes,” the singer, under the dim lights of the stage, gave an “OK!” and the now well-known opening notes to the song began playing. And as the song came to an end, fireworks shot out from behind the stage just as Swift hit a high note.

“Thank you so much Austin, Texas!” Swift thanked the crowd at the end of the song, waving and blowing kisses. “I love you!” And with a last built-up drumroll after the singer had already left the stage, the show ended with a blast of piercing red fireworks and a roar of cheers from the crowd that gave a perfect end to the perfect night.