Millions of Taylor Swift’s South East Asian fans are competing for about 330,000 seats that went on sale on Friday for her only stop in the region.
The pop star’s Eras Tour includes six shows in Singapore in March 2024.
Devoted fans have skipped work, charged up their devices and joined long queues for the coveted tickets.
The tense situation which is unfolding both on and offline, will end with either Bad Blood or with some seeing their Wildest Dreams come true.
Swift is also performing in Japan and Australia, but nowhere else in East or South East Asia, where her fans or “Swifties” are legion. Singapore, the Indonesian capital Jakarta and the Philippines’ most densely packed city, Quezon, are among the world’s top locations for streaming Swift’s songs, according to Spotify.
So for fans in this corner of Asia, Singapore which is closer, offers visa-free or visa-on-arrival and plenty of cheap flight options, is an easy pick. The country has long been a popular stop for big music acts because of its impressive public transport and infrastructure – Coldplay is performing at the expansive National Stadium a month before Swift.
This is Swift’s first post-pandemic concert outing. She has not toured since her 2019 Lover album and there’s a wealth of material from three records she has released since then – Evermore, Folklore and Midnights.
Lines are already snaking outside Singapore post offices, where fans can buy tickets offline. Given the demand, the daily Straits Times suggested four sleepy spots on the island’s outskirts where the chances of getting tickets could be higher.
“It’s Taylor Swift, I just have to see her,” says Joan Ng, who along with a group of her 15-year-old friends has camped out overnight at the post office in a Singapore mall to buy tickets. The girls say Joan is the biggest Swiftie among them.
They couldn’t skip school during the pre-sale, so they convinced their parents to lend them their credit cards and allow them to stay at the mall. They hopped from one shop to another to stay inside and then took turns napping at Haidilao, a popular hot pot chain, until daybreak. They shared a bowl of soup for dinner.
“She’s the best music artist of all time,” says Levincia Ong who considers Swift’s country album about teenage love and heartbreak, Fearless, to be the soundtrack to her life. Sajani Rajikumar says they have to get the tickets because they have “spent so much effort being here”. But the line is moving slowly because the system keeps crashing.
At the front, 18-year-old friends Kean Teo and Kenneth Lim were the first to get hold of the tickets. “We feel very lucky. It was a long wait,” says Kenneth, grinning. They had wandered around the building for 31 hours, also taking turns to sleep at Haidilao.
It has been no less harrowing online. A competitive pre-sale on Wednesday, which was exclusive to cardholders of Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOB), offered a preview of the hunger games that could unfold later in the week. Over a million fans joined the virtual line and UOB reported a surge in credit and debit card applications in the weeks leading up to the pre-sale.
The excruciating wait played out on WhatsApp chats, TikTok and Twitter as people swapped strategies and tips – these included logging on ahead of time, perhaps even a day before, unlocking devices, and turning off sleep mode. Groups of friends, meanwhile, plotted to aim for different dates and seats so they so they could maximise their chances. Some even took a day off work, or cleared their schedule for the entire day. Others queued up using multiple devices and waited to see which one of them – laptop, tablet or mobile phone – would get to the virtual ticket counter first.
“Oh my god, this pre-sale was so exhausting,” says Endro who lives in Jakarta. The 31-year-old did not wish to share his last name. He was glued to his devices all day, but his attempt ended in failure and a dispiriting queue number: 493,901.
“For now, I think I will still try, but I have to be realistic… I don’t want to make myself more miserable by hoping too much.”
Agniya Kh, a 29-year-old Jakartan who snagged tickets in the pre-sale, says it reminded her of a hit from Swift’s most recent album, Midnights: Great War. “This is definitely the Great War for Swifties in [South East Asia]. Can we just ask for more dates, please?”
She used both her laptop, which put her 22,987 in the queue, and her smartphone, which placed her much further behind at 896,813.
The 29-year-old who works in a start-up in Jakarta will be flying in to Singapore to watch Swift. She missed the chance in 2015, when Swift performed her album, 1989. On a tight student budget, Agniya couldn’t make it then. This time, she’s elated to be there: “It will be an indescribable feeling to hear live the songs that I listen to everyday.”
But she will be back on the ticketing portals on Friday to help fellow Swifties buy tickets in the general sale.
“This tour is a must-see for any Swiftie because it’s the ultimate synthesis of her 17-year career,” says Wincy Reyes from Philippines’ Quezon city.
His strategy included borrowing a Singaporean friend’s UOB card, and also monitoring plane ticket prices from Manila to Sydney and Tokyo in case they needed a backup plan. But a sudden work trip took him to Australia, where he got tickets to Swift’s Sydney show, saving him and his friends from the Singapore rush.
“It felt surreal,” he says. “I was screaming and running around after, not caring much because I’m in a foreign country. LOL.”
Endro says he might head to Singapore ticketless on the days the concert is happening. He says he will listen from outside, much like what some US fans have been doing.
“It’s just my wild plan, [I am] not really into it because I still wish I could get tickets from the general sale or maybe some fan that couldn’t come to the show.”
Meanwhile, millions of Chinese fans are heartbroken that the pop star, who has performed there three times before, the last time being 2019, is not making a stop there on her Eras Tour.
On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, where Swift is followed by more than 10 million fans, the most popular comments echoed some version of “China plz!!!”
One much-liked comment read: “Tens of millions of people are fighting for 10 shows in Asia. Add more in Asia! Add China!”
Source : BBC