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Concert Review – Machine Gun Kelly with Avril Lavigne & Willow @ Kia Forum, Inglewood, CA (7.13.22)

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a rock show, let alone a pop punk show. While it’s not entirely up my frequented narrow alley, I was interested to see how rapper-turned-pop rocker Machine Gun Kelly was adjusting into the new lane he’s carved for himself in the sub-genre. When Machine Gun Kelly was making hip hop music in its purest form, I really thought he had the potential to grow to be one of the best to even do it. I even thought that his shot at Eminem on “Rap Devil” was one the best single punches Eminem has ever taken from another artist. When MGK started to push the genre defining bounds on his music, I wasn’t opposed to it; I was just confused. But to my luck, MGK addressed a lot of these questions I had throughout his set on his Mainstream Sellout 2022 Tour. Assisting him on the tour down the card was also Avril Lavigne and Willow. In addition to figuring out what’s going on with MGK these days, I was excited to see Avril Lavigne steer me down memory lane with “Complicated” and see what Gen-Z sensation Willow had to offer. Let’s hop into some of the highlights of the night.

Up first was Willow. At 8 PM sharp, the lights dropped, and the audio skyrocketed to max volume as Willow kicked the concert into high gear. The 21-year-old hit us with a dark and grungy performance while stomping around the stage performing her classics like “Transparentsoul” and “Wait A Minute!”. Willow has been bobbing in and out of the mainstream over the past 10 years amassing a cult following. At this show, it was abundantly clear who these people were. I saw thousands of fans scream her lyrics at the top of their lungs as they sang along with her. Proudly rocking their Willow merch, I was impressed by how many people were drawn to the show specifically for her. I’ve heard critics say Willow’s just an entitled product of an A-list marriage, but she proved she deserves the limelight based on the merit of her own work. As she jammed through her set, the fans latched onto every word. Fist clenched and arms in the air, the crowd really bought into the rebellious tone Willow had on display. An especially memorable moment was when she played “Meet Me At Our Spot”. Armed with her guitar and backed by epilepsy-inducing lighting, Willow captivated the audience with her powerful vocals. She absolutely nailed her jam-packed 20-minute set, setting the bar extremely high for Avril Lavigne and Machine Gun Kelly.

Batting second was the beloved Avril Lavigne. Before her set, the fog machines pumped fog into the venue. Avril Lavigne burst onto the stage opening the set to her classic song, “Bite Me”. During this song, massive balloons dropped from the rafters above. They were like massive beach balls that bounced around the venue – just 4x larger! Backed by her band, Avril played a very nostalgic set, with highlights being the famous chart-topping hit “Complicated” and the very emotional “Happy Ending”. The first big guest appearance of the night was during this set when she brought out Blackbear. She rounded out her time with “Sk8ter Boi” but hit the crowd with an encore “I’m With You” after the crowd begged for more.

Finally, the time had come for Machine Gun Kelly’s set. To start, a video played showing MGK stuck in a “box” that was created for him by the internet. As MGK struggled to claw his way out the box, a helicopter encircled the venue looking to save MGK. The rapper turned rocker made it out of the “box” and hooked onto a ladder up the helicopter. He was airlifted out of the box and floated around the venue as he opened his set with “God Save Me”. The skits were a reoccurring theme throughout his set. Behind the stage was a massive robot with a computer monitor for a head. This robot often chimed in between songs to remind MGK that he is a rapper, only a rapper, is not allowed to play the guitar, and is a poser for trying. MGK let a lot off his chest as he pushed back on the critics who kept him inside that metaphorical box from the beginning of the show. From the skits, the theatrics, the rap, and now the pop-punk, MGK showcased that he’s an artist first, and a musician second, and is honestly quite dismissive of labels such as “rapper” and “rocker”. To further push back against his critics, MGK brought out one the biggest hip-hop cosigns anyone can ask for. Performing both “Ay!” and “Drug Dealer”, Lil Wayne hit the stage with a double cup in support for MGK. Wayne was just the first. After his feature, MGK was joined by a slew of other guests throughout his set. He brought back both Avril Lavigne and Willow to assist on their respective collaborations. In addition to the girls on tour, this Los Angeles show was also blessed with appearances by Travis Barker, Halsey, and Blackbear. Again, I really need to tip my hat to Willow as her bout with MGK on “Emo Girl” was the standout feature of the night. A couple of my other favorite points during his set were “El Diablo” and “Roll The Window Up” where MGK leaned back into his more authentic rap style of vocals. It was here when MGK made it clear that he isn’t trying to be someone else. He’s just trying to lean into himself: a very talented person with very broad musical horizons.            

All in all, this Mainstream Sellout 2022 Tour taps into the rebellious spirit of pushing back on what is expected of you. Whether its MGK making music outside this metaphorical “box” the internet has him in, or Willow shaving her head shedding her identity of the “whip my hair” girl, these are artists first, and musicians second. I went into show expecting an average rock show, but I got a lot more than I bargained for. This is a 56-date tour across North America and Europe. If they haven’t ravaged through your local stadium yet, it isn’t too late to catch them. It’s one you won’t want to miss!

Willow LIVE @ Kia Forum Video Below

Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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