Last Saturday, this punk rocker had the pleasure of attending her first Machine Gun Kelly extravaganza (also known as the Machine Gun Kelly Mainstream Sellout Tour). I use “extravaganza” because it was just that. Willow, and Avril Lavigne were both supporting acts and they did not disappoint.
Waiting in line for The Honda Center to open their doors for the sold out show, I started to feel a little underdressed in my black leggings and band T-shirt. People were dressed in their top concert attire. Dudes in expensive black T-shirts paired with “going-out jeans” and their cleanest black baseball hat. Women of all ages in colored leather that would only be outdone at a BDSM convention; just enough to cover their bits and pieces, and lots of high heels or knee-high boots! But I can’t forget about the hair! I’d honestly guesstimate that a quarter of the attendees had a shade of pink in their hair. When this is what you see outside a show, you know you are in for a good time.
As I watched the empty seats slowly start to fill, show time arrived and the lights went down. Willow hit the stage with her massive hit, “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l.” Willow’s voice is even better in person and I was really impressed. It is rare that a singer’s voice can sound better live, and she had her vocals turned up pretty high compared to her recorded versions.
Between songs Willow would speak very softly with a “Thank you” and jump right into the next song. Dressed in overalls and a snugly, colorful knit beanie, she didn’t move around the stage much, but she didn’t need to as her voice did it for her. I couldn’t take my eyes off her because her voice was enchanting and the mellow blue lights lining the stage created a perfect atmosphere.
Of course she sang the mega-hit, “Meet Me at Our Spot” and the crowd sang a collective chorus. Willow ended the set with her newest hit, “<maybe> it’s my fault,” which has fantastic heavy guitar riffs paired with an impressive death metal-style singing that has a fun sound. I know my description sounds weird, but you really must go check it out for yourself!
As stage hands began prepping for Avril Lavigne’s set, the crowd checked out the merchandise. The line was long and people were ready to spend some dough. I saw a lot of people return to their seats with large pink “MGK” shopping bags and wondered what treats they had acquired.
The lights went dark and Ms. Lavigne took the stage in a plaid school-girl skirt and Misfits T-shirt while a massive orange “Avril” banner was displayed behind her. The crowd erupted in cheers and she jumped right into “Girlfriend” without skipping a beat.
“Bite Me” came on second while black and orange streamers shot out of the stage and fluttered onto the heads of the crowd in the pit area. Lavigne sang “Sk8er Boi,” her 2002 award-winning and best-known song. The vibe of the crowd was as if they were kids again and pretty much everyone starting dancing and singing with their friends. She finished her set with “I’m With You” for a mellow and vocally-beautiful ending.
During the lull after Lavigne, fans did not get up to do anything in fear they might miss the much-talked-about show kickoff. Throughout the night, I saw people pointing at certain things around the venue saying, “Oh, that must be where…” and I never heard the end of the sentence, so I was really intrigued to see what was in store!
For the last time, the lights dimmed and our attention was drawn to the jumbotrons on either side of the stage. We saw someone looking very much like MGK, dressed as a helicopter pilot (fake “Top Gun” mustache included), talking about taking off. Cut to MGK saying he was stuck in a box and needed retrieval.
A faux pink helicopter then moved across the ceiling of The Honda Center toward the back, lowered a ladder into a makeshift helipad, and out popped the singer himself. Dangling off the ladder, singing his opening song, “Born With Horns,” perfectly timed to drop him on the stage when the song finished. An extraordinary entrance; I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it before and doubt I will again.
Singing into a mic that was perched on a stand shaped like an arm, he sang “God Save Me.” Fans throughout the entire venue were singing every word, including the dad behind me; he sang as though his life depended on it! All night his little kids couldn’t stop talking about which songs they’d hear MGK perform, and then the dad started singing out of nowhere with such feeling and so loud, you’d have thought he was trying to get MGK to hear him!
Standing on the colossal black and white checkered slanted stage, Kelly told the audience he was still drunk from the previous night’s performance in Vegas, and needed another drink to “see what it did.” I agree the hair of the dog is always a good idea, and it may have helped as he sang “Drunk Face.”
During “Bois Lie,” Lavigne graced the stage so the two performers could duet. Then, popular pop-punk singer jxdn hit the stage with MGK for “Bloody Valentine.” This was only outdone with Willow hopping on stage for “Emo Girl.”
At one point, giant white robot-type mannequin bodies with TVs as heads stood up beside the stage, MGK’s portion of the stage raised up, and fire shot up from the sides. It is crazy to think that whoever designed this stage had to have the conversation, “Okay, we get this massive circle stage that’s checkered black and white, and we have to build it between performers at each show. Then we get three-story high mannequin bodies and put TVs on their heads. Then we shoot fire up from their feet, and then…” I picture another creative person listening and chiming in, “Yeah, then we raise a six-foot portion MGK’s stage above the crowd and shoot pink confetti at everyone!” It sounds like a crazy, acid-trip infused story, but this production made it work seamlessly! It was above and beyond any normal concert and well worth the price of admission!
Unfortunately the spectacle had to come to an end at some point. Kelly finished the night off with “Twin Flame” before sending the well-dressed crowd home with merchandise treasures in hand.
Machine Gun Kelly and tour are making their way up the West Coast for the next month and then head overseas in September. I highly recommend you catch this show while you can!