Right about now there are two types of people in Boston: Those who have only some vague idea that Taylor Swift is coming to town, or who perhaps only vaguely know who she is. And those whose minds have been taken over.
Our subject for today is that second group — or, more precisely, a tormented, angst-ridden, full-on panicked subset of that group. For them, with the clock ticking down to Swift’s May 19 touchdown at Gillette, every waking hour is spent in pursuit of something they do not have, something that is Literally the Most Important Thing in their Entire Lives.
Some in this group have not yet scored tickets, and if all else fails, they are planning to show up at the stadium, dressed in their Taylor best, and throw themselves on the mercy of the karma gods. Others actually have tickets, but even so they are almost equally distraught. Why? Because for a variety of reasons — one of which involves the MBTA in the role of villain — they have no way to get to the stadium.
Erika Civitarese, 28, a social media manager for an artisanal pretzel company in Waltham, is among the ticketless. She fell in love with Swift as a sixth grader at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Hudson, when she heard “Our Song,” and the banjo and fiddle moved her heart.
Civitarese has been making friendship bracelets to trade with other fans at the concert, as Swifties do, and has already bought her outfit — a replica of a brown bear sweater that Taylor wore after Lasik surgery in 2020. But as the concert draws ever closer, she is starting to face reality.
“I was explaining to my bosses at work that I will probably have to take [the post-concert] Monday off because I will just be so upset that I wasn’t there,” she said. Or, if she does manage to work, she’ll be in mourning. “I want them to know that if I’m crying on a Zoom, that’s why.”
If you ask a Swiftie about their quest for seats, you should brace for a tale that comes fast and angsty and involves missing out on pre-sale tickets, even though they were “verified” fans armed with special codes; and FaceTiming with friends for support while they waited for hours in online queues to nowhere; and the heartbreak of the now-infamous Ticketmaster general sales fiasco; and radio contests they’ve entered to no avail; and the charities they’d donated to in hopes of winning seats; and the scammers they’ve tangled with; and, and, and do you know that on Stubhub the cheap seats are going for more than $1,000?
It makes the early days of trying to score a COVID vaccine seem relaxing — even if the stakes are arguably lower.
On a recent weekday, when word broke that Ticketmaster was releasing more tickets for a show in Nashville, Jen Nelson, 35, a single mom from Marstons Mills who wants to see her 9-year-old sing along with Swift, spent 14 hours on the site trying to buy two seats.
“At one point Ticketmaster thought I was a bot and wouldn’t allow me to join the queue,” she said.
People who are still hunting for tickets don’t want to hear about the struggles of the ticketed, but their problems are real, too.
Consider the angst of Cindy Chen, 25, of Cambridge, a self-described “planner,” who unexpectedly scored tickets recently for herself and her sisters, and then, as the siblings were rejoicing, she started to panic the group about transportation.
“My sisters were like, ‘Cindy, let us enjoy our moment,’” she said.
Enjoy? Please. It’s too late for that.
Many fans who managed to buy concert tickets thought the work was done, and figured they’d take the special-event train the MBTA runs to Gillette, and that they’d get tickets for that ride at their — pardon the word — leisure.
On the late afternoon of May 4, the MBTA announced that tickets for the concert trains would go on sale beginning at midnight on the app and at 5:30 a.m. at North Station, South Station, and Back Bay.
But who keeps an eye out for train tickets? And considering that the sold-out concerts are expected to draw nearly 60,000 nightly, and that the special event trains from South Station to Foxboro Station can carry a fraction of that, even many who did know the tickets were for sale didn’t score train seats.
Do we even need to say that an event that combines Taylor Swift disappointment with a perceived foul-up by the T is going to send critics to Twitter?
“The @mbta: never passing up an opportunity to do the obviously wrong thing,” @annie_backpacks tweeted.
“The communication about tickets going on sale was abysmal,” wrote @ld311.
The T, already on the receiving end of a free-floating rage that envelopes the city, pretty quickly announced that it would swap out the smaller trains that had been planned from Boston for Saturday and Sunday and instead use the biggest train set possible — which holds 1,800 (Friday’s was always the 1,800-capacity train).
People can drive of course, if they have cars and don’t mind traffic jams or paying for spots that are currently going for about $80 to $450 or more on SeatGeek. You could stay in a local hotel, but the very close places are showing as “sold out” online, and even if you’re willing to walk several miles or more, you’re looking at motel rates that start in the mid-$400s and go from there. There’s a ride-sharing bus called “Rally,” but it’s going to cost you. Tickets from the Boston area are $100 roundtrip.
On Reddit, when an out-of-town Swiftie asked for advice, a local responded: “Take the CR [commuter rail] to Walpole, Uber to the McDonalds, then walk the rest of the way.”
The Redditer added caveats about trying to get home after the concert since the regular commuter trains would not be running, and it was all starting to sound very complicated.
Which brings us to an almost existential question: In the end, is it better to have scored Taylor tickets or not scored Taylor tickets? I put the question to Chen, the “planner” from Cambridge. “I don’t know,” she answered. “Maybe that’s a question for after the concert.”