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Machine Gun Kelly’s Mainstream Sellout Tour At Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, June 28th, 2022, Reviewed

During one of the weirdest concerts ever last night, Machine Gun Kelly (who had gone sober) started up again: “I’ve been drinking nonstop since yesterday afternoon” he said, taking a gulp from a dixie cup and a drag on a joint. He was way on top of the game and also, as he himself noted, nearing a complete meltdown as MGK stopped the entire concert, had a cigarette, stared out and said he needed to calm down… and didn’t appear to be doing so at all. Looking out at a sold out Madison Square Garden Arena, he seemed in trouble until he glommed on a ten year old boy on somebody’s shoulders in the General Admission and took inspiration from the kid and got back on track.

So there was the led: top contender for the popstar drowning pool is an inspirational mess. What we didn’t know was that Travis Barker, the Blink 182 drummer and pop-punk producer, had been rushed to hospital as his next of kin asked for prayers… Yikes! If you’ve seen the MGK documentary on Hulu, you will recall the two’s closeness, Barker said that working on Mainstream Sellout was like working on a Blink 182 album, to discover that Barker had been taken on a stretcher hours before your career highlight sold out gig is, well, must have been a distraction An hour into the concert, MGK brought out Travis’s son, Landon Barker, to sing on “Die In California”, they didn’t discuss the health emergency unfurling in California as they dueted, but it added another layer of drama on an already preposterously dramatic evening, “A huge fucking night” to quote the man of the hour.

Iann Dior

Opening was the 23 year old Puerto Rican pop punker Iann Dior, Iann didn’t perform the 24Goldn “Mood” that he was featured on, and otherwise he really doesn’t have that much going on although the 20 minute set was certainly a loud and punky series of the flava in the ear year of 2022…

Avril Lavigne

Next was Avril Lavigne, the pop punk princess 20 years ago who could have probably played a theatre tour herself headlining. Though Avril spent much of the 2010s trying to catch her the lightning in a bottle sixteen year old at the time’s Let Go, she kept at it. Then she got lucky and Gen Z caught up with her. The eight song mad dash is just right to be crammed with five oldie plus three off the sucky Love Sux, the oldies included her classic “Complicated” and “What The Hell” from the 2011 Goodbye Lullaby and the terrific “Here’s To Never Getting Older”. The audience, who were into everything from the get, adored her and it was a triumph of sorts.

Pete Davidson

Introduced by Pete Davidson, MGK is like his comedian buddy: anorexic, drug addicted, deeply damaged, tattoed loverboys, always zigzagging between suicide attempts, ODs, and needy Tweets. How these guys got to be Gen Z avatars is beyond me, but here we are and here is Colson Baker, the son of missionaries who threw him out of his home when he was a teen and who had a major meltdown after his father died including a suicide intervention by his girlfriend Megan Fox.

The man attracts soap opera-ry deep feel and his live show projected just that; a full on rock extravaganza with MGK who emotes all over his audience while singing a mostly meh collection of pop punk. Whether entering the arena in a helicopter and singing the first song upside down or turning the Empire State Building’s light’s to pink with a lever close circuit from the landmark in real time, he puts his imprint on New York. MLK’s career got kickstarted in 2010 when the Texan won the Harlem Apollo’s amateur night, and after he changed speeds (though the man is a great speed rapper) and embraced pop punk on his last two albums (where 20 of these songs originated). The band is pretty good, AJ Tyus can shred with the best of them, and the songs never descend into chaos.

MGK is a good front man and he speaks enough to make it a personal set but not enough to derail momentum. He had a lot on his mind and you can hear him working out his problems as he performs, trying to make sense of a life that makes no sense at all for an audience who clearly adored him. Like Pete, fame is bewildering to him, “I am just a human being,” he said. “I make mistakes”. He sure does, but not last night as the nonstop 90 minute state of pop punk with “Mainstream Sellout” and “Drunk Face” bringing it early on, the four song middle of the show standout, “Die In California”, “Floor 13” (the one with the speed rap), and “Title Track” and less strong but not bad final third.

Who knows what happens next with MGK though one thing is sure, he can entertainer and if he was a better songwriter he could be what we think he is… assuming he can keep himself alive.

Grade: B+

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