One of the great things about living in Austin, Texas, the “Live Music Capital of the World,” is that there are so many opportunities to expand your musical horizons by discovering and supporting young talent around the city. A good example of this is that time I went to the Taylor Swift concert last night. You may not have heard about Taylor; she’s not your “Britney Spears” or “Jennifer Lopez,” but let me tell ya- this gal is going places. You heard it here first.
Yep, last night I threw my shame into the wind and packed into the Frank Erwin Center along with 10,000 of my best (pre-)adolescent girlfriends and their one-tween-concert-away-from-fullblown-midlife-crisis dads for the Red Tour. And I have to say, it was a freaking blast. I never really went to big time pop shows when I was a kid (I’m pretty sure my first concert was Weird Al Yankovic when I was like 15), so the sheer magnitude of enthusiasm and collective high-pitched screaming was actually astounding to me. Brightly lit signs illuminated all around the theater, saying things like “22,” a nod to Swift’s pop mega hit of the same title as well as the combined age of everyone at the concert besides me and my friends.
I know I am dwelling on the youth of the crowd right now, but it’s only because I was a little surprised. I knew it would be mostly tweens, but besides the two recent divorcees (educated guess) sitting in front of us gulping down liters of Chardonnay, it was literally all tweens. And I mean literal in the literal sense of the word. You know it’s bad when you run into your friend’s little sister and she says “Wow, and I felt like we were too old to be here.” (A real thing that happened.)
I mean, come on though, I know plenty of people my age who are T-Swift fans. I’m only 23, which puts me way closer to 22 than all these kids around me. Maybe it’s sort of like The Price is Right rules, though; if you go over, you are a loser, so go back and sit down. Or maybe all of my peers were too embarrassed to show up. (Cowards.)
And so, in defense of my decision as an adult male to attend this show, I have compiled a short list of the Top 5 reasons why Taylor Swift is awesome, and, quite possibly, my spirit animal.
1) Taylor Swift has incredible hair that can be flipped in a variety of angles and directions.
2) Taylor Swift is deeper than you.
3) Taylor Swift and I share the same interests.
My cat and I just started a new day after Christmas tradition where I fall asleep in a pile of Jack in the Box and he pretends I don't exist
— Shay Spence (@chezspence) December 26, 2012
The Law & Order theme song is a sweet lullaby
— Shay Spence (@chezspence) July 1, 2012
Just sang Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are" to a slice of pizza
— Shay Spence (@chezspence) December 7, 2012
4) Taylor Swift is openly disgusted by the sight of Justin Bieber.
(This is the gif that confirmed everything I have ever believed in life.)
5) If you don’t agree that she is adorable, Taylor Swift will destroy your fucking life.
Overall, the show was actually pretty great. The strength and range of Taylor’s voice have improved greatly over the years, and it really showed. It was a full-blown pop extravaganza, complete with fireworks, lots of choreography and background dancers, wardrobe changes, confetti, and almost none of the reserved, “girl and her guitar” country tunes that made her famous. (There’s even a dubstep portion, so don’t leave your molly at home kids!!)
T-Swift solidified me as a fan last night. Even though I’m pretty sure I have to register as a sex offender now just for attending without a minor, it was still totally worth it.
The concert last night was all centered around one major theme: red. Red lipstick. Red dresses. Red lighting. It was the Red Tour for the album Red. Red, red, red, got it, Tay. She explained that the color best represents the emotions she was feeling while writing this album- new relationships, love (red); breakups, anger (also red.) Those are the only things she really writes about; get over it.
I went to the grocery store the other day with no real direction other than that one color to guide my inspiration. Red peppers? Nah, too obvious. Red meat? Yum, but nah- Taylor Swift and red meat are an awkward pairing. Then I stumbled upon a display right in the front of the store that seemed to have made my decision for me.
This beautiful array of organic, local red potatoes and green beans were practically begging me to make good use out of them. You see, I’ve been envisioning creating a recipe for a light roasted potato salad, vinaigrette-based rather than mayo-based (mayo is my arch enemy), as the perfect side dish to bring us into summer grilling season. I have literally been thinking about this for weeks, and right when I walked in the store I knew that these red potatoes would help me fulfill that fantasy, with the green beans being their perfect counterpart for the dish. (And yes, in case you are wondering, going to a grocery store and taking pictures of the potatoes is as awkward as it seems.)
Needless to say, my vision came to fruition, and the result was what is, to me, the perfect potato salad. The potatoes are crispy on the outside but creamy on the inside, the green beans provide some much needed crunch and color, and the vinaigrette is deliciously bright and perfectly acidic. Here’s how to make it:
First, roast some potatoes with salt, pepper, olive oil, and rosemary until golden brown.
(Side note: my favorite thing about my parents house- fresh herbs in the backyard. Nothing like rosemary that was just picked.)
Anyway, while the potatoes are baking, cook the green beans by tossing them in boiling salted water for a couple minutes then immediately transferring them to ice water to stop the cooking and preserve their bright green color.
Make a nice lemon dijon vinaigrette (simple instructions below), and pour it over the cooked potatoes and green beans,
Finish it off with some freshly grated parm, and that’s all, folks.
Red Potato Salad with Green Beans and Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves: about 6-8, as a side dish
2 lb red potatoes, but into bite sized chunks
6 oz. green beans, washed and trimmed on both ends
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tsp honey
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp minced parsley
1 tbsp minced rosemary
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, toss potatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Transfer to baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, until lightly browned.
While potatoes are baking, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Toss in green beans for about 3 minutes, then immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the bright green color.
Take the potatoes out of the oven, allow them to cool slightly, and make the vinaigrette. Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, parsley, and a dash of salt. Whisk to combine.
Return the potatoes to the same bowl you tossed them in, combine them with the green beans, and dress with the vinaigrette. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with freshly grated parm. (Note: this will be delicious immediately, but even better if you let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours!)