Ever since Machine Gun Kelly pivoted to punk rock after making a name for himself as “the next Eminem”, the star has been making headlines for his impressive live antics.
From ambitious stage shows to breaking glasses with his own head, Machine Gun Kelly’s gigs typically channel the reckless abandon of classic rock & roll while a string of high-profile collabs have shown just how versatile an artist he is. His film Good Mourning and his pop-punk take on Grease, Downfalls High, see him refusing to stay in one lane.
In true rockstar fashion though, he’s not adverse to saying exactly what’s on his mind either with Slipknot, Eminem and Jack Harlow all finding themselves in his crosshairs in recent months.
These are Machine Gun Kelly’s best moments, onstage and off.
Like most of us, Machine Gun Kelly used the various COVID-enforced lockdowns to get reacquainted with the camera on his phone. As well as acoustic covers, including the Yungblud-assisted reworking of Oasis’ ‘Champagne Supernova’, the artist started exploring the world of pop-punk and alternative music. He remixed iconic tracks from PVRIS and covered anthems like Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’, with a little help from Blink-182’s Travis Barker, laying the groundwork for the pop-punk revival to come.
‘I Think I’m Okay’ with Yungblud at Reading
Before the pop-punk revival though, there was ‘I Think I’m Okay’, a giddy, guitar-driven emo track that saw Yungblud and Machine Gun Kelly team up with Travis Barker for a collaboration that sent shockwaves through the worlds of rock and rap. When MGK played the BBC Radio One Tent at Reading Festival in 2019, he was joined by Yungblud for a riotous three-minutes that felt like the start of something important
Covering System Of A Down’s ‘Aerials’
Machine Gun Kelly has always been an artist who does whatever he feels like. The perfect example of this was a stripped down reworking of System Of A Down’s ‘Aerials’ that he performed on The Howard Stern Show after the band “blew his mind” after sharing various festival stages.
“I’m here to just jam it and see what happens. Serj’s [Tankian] voice is so untouchable. I’m here to just jam and have some fun,” he explained, as if expecting the backlash that would follow.
“I don’t know much about Machine Gun Kelly, it’s always an honour when someone covers your song, so I can’t hate the guy for giving it a shot,” said SOAD guitarist Daron Malakian in response.
It’s hard to think of a better moment to sum up Machine Gun Kelly than the four-second video Travis Barker shared of MGK jumping on a table in the middle of a meeting with his record label while playing them what would become ‘Tickets To My Downfall’. “And just like that @Interscope will never be the same”, wrote Barker while social media went in on the enthusiasm. “When you’re 10 this is what you imagine being 16 will be like,” said one sarcastic tweet.
“I watched the entire internet try to make a meme of me,” Machine Gun Kelly told NME afterwards. “They were like: ‘Haha! Look at the guy on the table believing in himself! I’ve been the guy jumping up and down on the table believing in myself for-fucking-ever. I’m not up there tap dancing for some corporate label; I’m up there spreading my passion and my belief in the music I’m playing,” he continued.
“Also, fuck you to any of the motherfuckers on the internet who tried to make a joke of what is now the Number one fucking album.” It’s hard to argue with that.
And just like that @Interscope will never be the same @machinegunkelly #ticketstomydownfall pic.twitter.com/TihUUb8MT1
— Travis Barker (@travisbarker) January 29, 2020
Paying tribute to Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington
For all his ambition and big talk, Machine Gun Kelly has a sensitive side. You can hear it across his music and see it at his live shows. MGK also took the time during his biggest ever London headline show to pay tribute to Linkin Park’s “great human being” Chester Bennington, who died by suicide in 2017.
Kelly had previously performed with Linkin Park and was set to support the band on the North American leg of their ‘One More Light’ world tour, which was cancelled following Bennington’s passing.
“We had a tour that we were about to start and three days before we started that tour, Chester passed away,” Kelly told the audience. “The last time I saw him was here in Europe, so I encourage you, because life is short, to go live this life. I know it’s hard, man. I know this shit is fucking hard. But nights like tonight make life worth it.”
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