Taylor Swift’s first live in concert in Brazil in 11 years ended in tragedy Friday, after a fan died amid excessive heat inside the stadium.
Swift was poised to close out the 2023 portion of The Eras Tour with six concerts in Brazil: three in Rio de Janeiro and three in São Paulo. Swift’s first concert in Rio took place on Friday, November 17. During the show, 23-year-old Ana Clara Benevides Machado, was taken to the hospital after experiencing excessive heat inside the stadium. She suffered cardiorespiratory arrest but an official cause of death has not been announced, according to Brazil's Ministry of Culture.
Various reports and social media posts claim attendees were not able to bring water into the stadium and purchasing water from the venue proved difficult.
PRIDE spoke to three fans who attended this concert and had firsthand accounts of what they experienced.
Three fans who attended the concert spoke exclusively with PRIDE.
Content creator and social media influencer Jessica Ballut (732,000 subscribers on YouTube) attended the November 17 concert of The Eras Tour in Rio de Janeiro with her wife, Taíssa Rampinelli, and her sister, Thaissa Ballut. A day later, the three of them shared exclusive videos and statements with PRIDE about what they saw and experienced during the first Eras Tour concert in Brazil.
Jessica, Taíssa, and Thaissa arrived at the Nilton Santos Stadium around 4:30 pm, which meant that the sun had already started to go down and the heat wasn’t as strong as it had been earlier that day. As reported by G1, the maximum recorded temperature on that Friday was a whopping 102.3 degrees.
They had seated seats, which were covered by the stadium’s roof, so they were more sheltered and felt less hot than the attendees at the ground level. Upon arrival, they acknowledged how hot it felt inside the stadium, but were too excited to see Swift anyway.
As seen in this video recorded by Jessica, the three of them were already extremely sweaty and seemingly out of breath before the concert had even started. “We’ve arrived. It seems like I ran a marathon. Lord help us,” Jessica said in the video.
While speaking with PRIDE, Jessica compared the temperature of the stadium with “being at a theme park during a peak summer day in July, but feeling trapped with that temperature inside an elevator that you couldn’t leave.” Their overall sensation was that the air just wasn’t circulating properly inside the stadium, which kept getting progressively worse as more and more people arrived at the venue.
Opening act Sabrina Carpenter heard fans yelling “it’s hot” from the stage.
In a video re-shared by @pureswift, The Eras Tour opening act Sabrina Carpenter can be seen trying to understand what the fans were yelling at her. She first thought they were saying “gato” (which can mean “cat” or “cute”), but then understood that they were screaming “calor” (“it’s hot”).
Carpenter, who was visibly red all over her face and chest, understood what “calor” meant and tried to fan herself before singing her next song. “At that point, it was even a cute moment that an American singer was listening to the fans and understanding what they were saying in Portuguese,” Jessica told PRIDE.
Multiple fans on social media claimed that the stadium was only selling water bottles of 200ml, which equals to 6 oz. Jessica, Taíssa, and Thaissa confirmed that information, adding that the water bottles they had access to buy in the seated area were cold, “but many people were complaining that vendors weren’t going to the ground level, and that the water bottles that reached them were already very warm.”
The fans’ experience turned dangerous early into the concert.
“When the concert started, I couldn’t believe it that she really did come. She came. She brought us the tour. She’s here,” Jessica told PRIDE. “I basically used up all of my energy during the Lover era. I was enjoying it. I yelled really loud when she sang ‘Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince,’ and everyone lost their minds during the bridge of ‘Cruel Summer.’ When that song ended, I felt like I could’ve passed out.”
For context, “Cruel Summer” is the second song in The Eras Tour, which contains a setlist of 44 songs. “During ‘Cruel Summer,’ Taíssa noticed that an ambulance had already made its way inside the stadium,” Jessica recalled. “She said, ‘I’m seeing ambulance lights down there.’ She was shocked, because the concert had literally just started. She saw movement on the ground level so that someone could be taken to the ambulance.”
Taíssa added, “I was very dressed down, practically just wearing a bikini. And even then, I could feel that my blood pressure dropped. So, I decided to pick and choose which songs I’d sing out loud, or I’d end up getting very sick.”
According to the three of them, the concert didn’t stop and wasn’t disrupted when this fan was taken to the ambulance. While they don’t know if the person who was taken to the ambulance was Ana Clara Benevides Machado, friends of Machado told G1 that she was taken to the ambulance during “Cruel Summer.”
According to a report from Jornal Hoje, traveling to Rio to see The Eras Tour was Machado’s first time inside an airplane.
Taylor Swift stopped the concert after asking event producers to bring water to the fans.
Jessica said that the Fearless (act two) segment of the concert was uneventful, but that Swift started to notice what was really going on in the Evermore (act three) segment.
“During the piano section of the Evermore era, Taylor stopped what she was doing and started saying on the mic something like, ‘We need water here for the fans,’” Jessica explained. “She wasn’t angry… she was firm. But I got a feeling that nobody seemed available right away to help her out or do what she was asking. So she kept saying on the mic to production, ‘You guys, where’s the water for them? Do you understand what I’m saying?’ She said that a few times and pointed to the fans right in front of the stage who were desperately asking for water.”
Jessica felt like the event coordinators seemed completely lost and/or confused when it came to obtaining water to give to the fans. “So Taylor leaned on the piano and just stayed there. She basically said, ‘Okay, I’ll wait.’ The concert basically stopped. Taylor said that the concert would only continue after water bottles were provided. And then, just like that, finally water arrived and they gave out bottles to the fans. After that, Taylor still checked in with the fans to see if they felt better and asked them if she could continue the concert now.”
Even though this was the only part of the concert that actually came to a halt, Jessica recalled a few other times when Swift grabbed a water bottle from event producers and threw it to fans that she could see in the audience. She also continuously thanked fans for coming despite the very high temperature.
The actual concert wasn’t adapted in any way despite the extreme heat.
Jessica told PRIDE was that none of Swift’s outfits were altered for the high temperature in Brazil. She delivered the exact same The Eras Tour experience that she had been performing in all other cities.
“Some of those costumes look heavy and she was clearly feeling very hot. But she still wore all the clothes, sang all the songs, and did the whole choreography,” Jessica said. “When I saw her come out in ‘Lavender Haze’ with that massive purple coat, I wanted to die. I was like, ‘This girl is going to melt right in front of my eyes!’ Her skin was already red all over due to the heat.”
Fans have theories about the extreme heat.
Besides the city of Rio de Janeiro reaching extremely high temperatures to begin with, multiple attendees are claiming on social media that the Nilton Santos Stadium had some of its structure enclosed with fences/boards in order to prevent non-ticket holders from watching the concert from outside the stadium.
Taíssa noted that a friend of theirs went to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at this same stadium three weeks prior to Swift’s show. “He told us that it was very breezy inside,” she recalled. “This stadium was built with ‘ventilation openings’ that facilitate air circulation. But those openings were apparently blocked with fences/boards so that people outside couldn’t watch the concert.”
“Which is really cruel, because the concert was completely sold out,” Jessica added. “They sold all the tickets. She also released the concert film before she came to Brazil, so everyone has already seen the show. So blocking air circulation and turning the stadium into a sauna with the excuse that event organizers didn’t want outside people to see the show… I can’t even put into words how I feel about that logic.”
One concert has been re-scheduled.
After Machado’s death was announced during this first Eras Tour concert in Brazil, a huge uproar and backlash from fans sparked on social media.
The Eras Tour concert set to place on Nov. 18 was re-scheduled to Nov. 20. Meanwhile, the concert scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 19 is still moving on as planned.
Swift issued an official statement about Saturday’s concert being re-scheduled to Monday. She wrote via Instagram stories:
“I can’t believe I’m writing these words but it is with a shattered heart that I say we lost a fan earlier tonight before my show. I can't even tell you how devastated I am by this. There’s very little information I have other than the fact that she was so incredibly beautiful and far too young.
I’m not going to be able to speak about this from stage because I feel overwhelmed by grief when I even try to talk about it. I want to say now I feel this loss deeply and my broken heart goes out to her family and friends. This is the last thing I ever thought would happen when we decided to bring this tour to Brazil.
I’m writing this from my dressing room in the stadium. The decision has been made to postpone tonight’s show due to the extreme temperatures in Rio. The safety and well-being of my fans, fellow performers, and crew has to and always will come first.”
Brazilian president weighs in.
Brazilian President Lula issued a demand for production company Time For Fun (T4F) to issue a formal explanation about what happened regarding Machado’s passing.
This is an effort to clarify which parties were responsible for the alleged blocking of air circulation in the stadium and the lack of access to water bottles during the concert.