Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) returned to Toronto after four years with a sold out show for his Mainstream Sellout tour. During this leg of the tour, his special guests included iann dior and Canada’s own Avril Lavigne. This roster graced the stage at Scotiabank Arena on July 6, 2022.
The show started with a performance by iann dior, who has been featured on viral TikTok songs like “Mood” and “Heat Waves”. During his set, he joined fans in the pit and sang “gone girl” to an arena full of cell phone lights. His stage presence was equal to that of his more experienced colleagues.
Next up, Avril Lavigne received a warm Canadian welcome as she started her set with “Girlfriend”. After some singles from her recent albums, she dove into hits such as “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi”. One of the tracks off her new album, Love Sux, was “Love It When You Hate Me”, in which her band member covered the parts of the song by Blackbear. She wrapped up her set with “I’m with You” from her debut album, Let Go, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. She famously re-created the photo from the album cover, which she posted on social media. Avril performed effortlessly, with fans chanting along to the hits of their teenage years.
After Avril’s set, the stage crew got to work in preparation for MGK’s performance. An elevated and angular chessboard-like stage was set up, tilting toward the audience as the fog machine was cranked up.
MGK’s set started off with a countdown, which led to a skit where he FaceTimed a helicopter pilot after being “in a box,” asking for help. The audience watched their call from the screens as a prop helicopter was lowered from the ceiling and moved across the arena until a ladder dropped down and picked up Machine Gun Kelly. He kicked off his set performing “born with horns” while crossing to the main stage as he clung onto the helicopter’s ladder. MGK explained to the crowd that he is a storyteller and this would mark the beginning of the performances mixed in with short skits.
For the most part, MGK weaved his newer punk rock material in with his hip hop and rap roots. He also invited his guests to perform songs they collaborated on. iann dior was welcomed back to the stage to perform “fake love don’t last”. Avril also returned to perform her song with MGK, “Bois Lie”.
In a blend of fog, cigarette smoke, and e-cigarette smoke, a grey, inflatable torso with a CRT TV for a head appeared as Machine Gun Kelly performed “Floor 13” to a head-banging crowd. The CRT TV displayed different visuals, including a green alien-like face, and later a creepy face with a Cheshire cat-like smile. In a deep and menacing voice it exclaimed, “Colson, you can’t play guitar, I thought you were supposed to be a rapper! I am the internet, you are what I say you are,” as MGK transitioned to the next song, “papercuts”. The ‘internet’ inflatable was referencing the public reaction to him switching music genres during his career.
Though it felt cheesy having such a visual representation of it, MGK offered some advice on countering hate on the internet. “Don’t let that box determine your future,” he said, “don’t let that invisible box matter. What matters is what your eyes see, what you feel.” Afterward, the helicopter pilot schtick also returned, this time with the helicopter blasting fireworks toward the ‘internet’.
Later in the show, there was another inflatable torso that showed up next to the stage. This time, the torso had black x’s on its breasts. MGK briefly acknowledged the strangeness of this inflatable torso showing up before going into the hit song, “emo girl”. Unlike the embodiment of the ‘internet’, there was no storyline afterward.
MGK shared stories of Toronto, reminiscing about his first “dab” and being the highest he’s ever been. MGK had great performance chemistry with his guests and his bandmates. Despite some cringey antics, it really felt like there was a community in the audience. He played ‘rock, paper, scissors, shoot’ and ‘flip cup’ with his audience to decide which song he’d play, but would always play fan favourites like “forget me too”. People were moshing with their friends, fans were jumping together in the aisles while screaming lyrics, and someone was even on FaceTime with a friend during the concert. MGK ended his show with a raw performance of “Twin Flame”, a song off the Mainstream Sellout album which he dedicated to his partner, Megan Fox.
Machine Gun Kelly may be a polarizing public figure and artist, but two things are clear: he has a strong, loyal fanbase and he can put on a show.