The First Time I Met Vance Joy and The Tenth Time I Saw Taylor Swift
And you / you’ve got this wide-eyed gaze / and a smile /
that you’ll carry through / your days
Entirely due to a stroke of dumb luck, I met Vance Joy last week. I entered a contest through his website for tickets and a meet & greet for two people to Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour show in Philadelphia on June 12th. I simply entered my email address sometime in May, and evidently, I was the one winner out of thousands of entries. I have decent luck, I won’t deny that—I’ve won tickets from a couple of radio contests over the years and I’ve met a handful of musicians—but I genuinely thought the email saying I had won was fake. My luck seemed just too unlikely this time. But I received confirmation emails after that, and headed off to Philly a few days later with my best friend Rachel, who is even more enamored with Vance Joy than I am. (Her reaction when I called and told her I won was priceless.)
Even if you don’t know who Vance Joy is, you probably know who Vance Joy is. You’ve probably heard him on your local pop station cooing, “Lady / running down to the riptide / taken away to the dark side / I wanna be your left hand man,” more times than you can count. Though “Riptide” is an excellent single, the rest of Joy’s album is even more impressive. Rachel and I have fallen in love with his words over and over again; “Georgia” and “Wasted Time” are our respective favorites.
On Friday night, we were escorted backstage before the show by Vance Joy’s manager (whose job seems as cool as her Australian accent, and I’m not sure which of those two things I am more jealous of). We talked to Vance for a few minutes; we tried to express in a short amount of time how important his writing is to us. He was perfectly sweet and appreciative, smiling at all the right moments, posing for pictures, and taking the time to personalize autographs for us. He later Tweeted the one of the pictures he took with us and tagged us in it, which lead to our receiving endless Twitter notifications—not that we’d have it any other way. We went back to our seats with legs like Jell-O and too star struck to form any comments beyond did that really just happen?!
Not a minute of this show was disappointing. Shawn Mendes, sixteen years old, owned the fifty-thousand-person stadium when it was his time to. He held his own and made me eager to see where he goes from here. The influence that Ed Sheeran has had on his style was evident without sounding like a cheap imitation. Vance Joy’s set was incredible, as I expected—I can’t properly express the rarity of authentic, raw, and intelligent writing like his. (Go buy his album Dream Your Life Away!) A half hour after his set ended, Taylor’s began.
It's been just about six years since the first time I saw Taylor Swift live and everything is different yet everything is exactly the same. She has preserved the quintessential elements of every previous headlining tour she’s been on, but made edits to accommodate bigger stadiums, crowds, and productions. She still has a B-stage, but instead of popping up in the back after the humming of “Hey Stephen,” her massive stage extends out into the crowd to reach the same upper-level seats. Instead of renting a car to drive across the country on a radio tour with her mom, she takes a private jet from city to city. Instead of telling stories about bad guys with perfect hair, she thanks us for defending her during the Red Era before beginning “Clean.” Throughout her shows, albums, and career, she has maintained a personal dialogue with each one of her fans. The crowds have doubled in size, but her ego hasn’t. Everything that matters remains—her character, her personality, her wit, her storytelling—and they show no sign of leaving.