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Why Some Swifties Report ‘Concert Amnesia’ After Attending the Eras Tour

Why Some Swifties Report ‘Concert Amnesia’ After Attending the Eras Tour

Some Taylor Swift fans have reported a blank space in place of vivid concert memories after attending Taylor Swift’s epic three-hour show, but a CU School of Medicine researcher explains it’s a normal function of the brain.

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Written by Kara Mason on July 13, 2023

It’s a concert that many will want to remember forever, but some Eras Tour attendees say that they can’t recall parts of the three-hour jam-packed show orchestrated by pop star Taylor Swift. Even though they were there, singing along at the top of their lungs and recording songs on their phones, some memories seem to have disappeared.

“Now that it’s over, my brain seems to be trying to convince me I wasn’t there,” one fan posted online after attending a show earlier this year.

“I think we just blacked out from all of the magic,” another writes.

What’s actually happening is a normal function of the human brain, says Joel Stoddard, MD, associate professor in the University of Colorado Department of Psychiatry where he leads the Emotion and Development Laboratory in the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

“We all have the capacity to forget things, which is good,” explains Stoddard. “The brain can be excitable, and it puts us in a state that doesn’t allow us to record memories as they’re happening, and there are a lot of reasons why that can happen.”

The role of stress and memory

To understand what fans have dubbed “post-concert amnesia,” Stoddard says it’s important to know that stress isn’t always bad. “It’s just something that taxes the physiology of a system,” he says.

Stress and memory can be closely related, creating the right conditions leading the brain to refrain from recording the memory in the first place – which might be the case for many who can’t recall parts of what they just experienced.

Memory and emotions are both major functions of the limbic system.

“The most famous structure in that group is the hippocampus,” Stoddard says. “Its whole job is to take what you’re experiencing and lay it down to long term memory. When the hippocampus gets stressed out or there is an intensely emotional experience the hippocampus may perform differently. Researchers have speculated that this different functioning changes memory.”

Essentially, the short-term memory doesn’t get written to long term memory, which is why a few hours or days after the show a fan might not remember some parts of the concert.


Images of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour by Ronald Woan, Redmond, WA, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Swift fans — collectively referred to as Swifties — might also be experiencing dissociative amnesia, a disorder often defined by memory gaps. The condition can seem peculiar especially when a person knows they were present and enjoying the experience. It’s part of the human experience, Stoddard says.

Feeling disassociated, a mind-body disconnect, might feel like losing oneself in the crowd, an out-of-body experience, or like the event didn’t seem real – which some concert goers have also reported feeling. One fan said the entire experience felt like a dream.

“It’s very common to feel this way when you’re super excited about something,” Stoddard says.

A moment in time

Mindfulness techniques and focusing on being present might help quell some emotions that can lead to dissociative feelings, but overall, there shouldn’t be any cause concern for Swifties. If memory gaps persist, however, it’s important to seek out expert care from a mental health professional.

Memory is also malleable, Stoddard says, so it’s possible that the gap in memory is only temporary.

“These fans might watch a recording of themselves singing along in five or six years and actually remember that moment,” he says. 

Memory gaps, including forgetting pieces of an “unforgettable” event, are a normal function of the human brain.

“We are all vulnerable to memory effects,” Stoddard says. “These concerts can be an intense experience for some, and this is one way the brain can respond to overwhelming experience.”

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Staff Mention

Joel Stoddard, MD