- 130 W. Fulton
- Grand Rapids, MI 49503
- (616) 742-6600
After a great dinner in East Grand Rapids, it was time to head downtown for the evenings main event. For my birthday, J bought me tickets to the Taylor Swift concert at Van Andel Arena. I know it’s a little wierd for an almost 30-year-old to want to go to a concert that attracts the tween crowd, but I love Taylor Swift’s music and so does J. She was in town headlining a show for B-93. It was their annual Roof Sit for Kid’s fundraiser. The show started at 7:00 at Van Andel Arena.
After some problems with construction around Greater Grand Rapids, we made it downtown at about 6:50. I hate parking garages and the parking near the arena is garages. Not being familiar with Grand Rapids, I didn’t know where to go. We ended up finding another garage a few blocks from the arena. The price was a little bit higher at nine bucks, but at least we didn’t have to deal with horn honking crazy teenagers as we were trying to leave the main lot. We were in and out with no problem.
We parked on Pearl Street and walked back to the Arena. Grand Rapids is lucky to have such a beautiful place for concerts. The outside glass facade is a nice look. We made it inside where the usher scanned our tickets. After a little trouble with the scan on mine, we found the stairs to go up to the concourse level. I like the way the seating area is set up. Our seats were in the upper deck directly across from the stage. What’s neat is the way the concourse serves both the upper and lower decks. If you’re in the lower deck, you go down stairs to get to your seats. If you’re in the upper deck, you go up stairs. Our section was right at the top of the stairs when we first walked in. Since the opening band was still playing, we both hit the bathrooms and I took a quick look at concession and souvenir stands.
I didn’t really need a pink or yellow Taylor Swift shirt, so I moved over to concessions. Nothing jumped out at me. Prices were comparable to other venues but still expensive. Most of the people around us were snacking on popcorn and Pepsi. We got stuck behind a mom that either had too many Budweiser’s or was trying to be cool to her 10 year daughter sitting next to her. She was up drunk dancing during all the popular songs Taylor does. J thinks she was drunk. I think she was just trying to be cool at what was probably her daughter’s first concert. By the look on her daughter and husbands face, she failed if that was the case.
Our seats were only three rows up and right on the end. The usher showed us to our seats and we settled in to hear the end of the opening act. I listen to a lot of country music. Between XM Radio, CMT, and GAC, not much gets by me, but the opening trio was a group I never heard of. The name was Love and Theft and they reminded me of the Jonas Brothers. They were all young, hip kids with good harmonies. There was just the three of them on stage with guitars and a keyboard. They were good, but nothing spectacular. After Taylor’s show, the three of them were out on the concourse signing autographs and trying to sell their first CD which was just released.
After a 45 minute intermission, Taylor finally came out to a loud and very high pitched ovation. The 8-year-olds behind us really did a number on J’s ears. I don’t know if the arena is that loud or if it was jus the tween girl crowd. It was deafening. Taylor is a great performer. She really knew how to work the crowd and got those girls screaming a lot. She opened up with “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” and ended with “Picture To Burn.” In between, she played all of her hits and a lot of songs I had never heard of. She gave the band a break and did an acoustic set while playing on the stage and channeled the Blue Man Group during “Should’ve Said No” when she and her fiddle player played garbage cans.
Van Andel has great acoustics. J and I saw a lot of concerts at the 25 year old Peoria Civic Center and I’ve seen a number of shows at the Allstate Arena and United Center in Chicago. Those arenas leave a lot to be desired and if you don’t know the songs, it’s hard to understand the performer. Didn’t have that problem at Van Andel. We could hear everything from the opening band and Taylor perfectly clear.
We were worried that Taylor would get too pitchy live. We’ve heard her on some of the award shows and she always seems to be off key or out of breath. Didn’t notice it live. I thought she got screeching when she tried to go high, but her voice sounded much better than we thought it would.
I’m happy to say, Taylor Swift’s show was one of the best country acts I’ve seen. Even though I was surrounded by screaming little girls, the show was enjoyable. I may not be able to identify with her lyrics, but I love her songs and music. I can’t wait to see her show again and I can’t wait until there’s another concert at Van Andel that I want to see. West Michigan has a great show place in Van Andel and I hope to take advantage of it again.