Machine Gun Kelly’s new album ‘Tickets To My Downfall’ is the best album to come out in a decade. There. I said it and I’m not taking it back. Every song is a hit and every hit is straight to the gut with relatable lyrics and a pop-punk edge that a nostalgia-seeker like myself craves. I know I’ve talked smack on this guy before. The last time I saw him about five years ago I was less than impressed but people change, music evolves, and well, that’s how we got to the excitement surrounding Thursday night’s show.
I was really excited to see opener KennyHoopla perform. Much like MGK, KennyHoopla’s new(ish) EP is great. I truly love it from front to back and was so excited to hear his cloud-hop drenched tracks live. Sadly, this admiration for KennyHoopla and me putting him on a pedestal as the next big thing set me up for a huge letdown. KennyHoopla, born Kenneth La’ron, took the stage, and my friends and I instantly shared glances that said, “Wait, what is happening?”. I don’t know if tracks in his in-ear monitors were off or if it was jitters for the first gig of this massive, sold-out tour. Every song that was flawless on his EP was butchered on stage and I noticed my friends quickly lose interest and. Everyone gets three chances with me so I will absolutely try and go check out KennyHoopla’s upcoming show at the 7th Street Entry next year and hopefully a smaller venue will work better for him.
Out of the three acts on the line-up, Jxdn was the one I knew the least about. At only twenty years old, Jxdn has truly made a name for himself and is one of those TikTok stars that the kids are always talking about. Although I went in thinking Jxdn’s set would be a perfect chance to fill up on drinks and hit the bathroom before things got nutty for the headliner, I found myself completely captivated by his performance. His overall style is just a little bit too young for my personal liking when it comes to listening to him around the house but I truly adored the power and passion he showed off while on the stage. Whereas I wish KennyHoopla’s already short set had been shorter, I wish Jxdn would have been given more time on stage to showcase his talent and power. Like KennyHoopla, Jxdn has a show already on the books for next year and you best believe I’ll be there to enjoy every second of it!
The anticipation between Jxdn and Machine Gun Kelly’s set was excruciating. You could feel the excitement in the room and it all came to a peak as MGK (born Colson Baker) could be seen rising onto a platform set in the center of the stage. I’ll be completely honest with you, the entire set was a little bit of a blur for me. It was truly just song after song of tracks that I wanted to hear from him. Highlights included my personal favorite, “I Think I’m OKAY” and a live debut of “Hangover Cure” and “Papercuts”. I wasn’t the only one loving the perfectly curated almost thirty-track setlist. The entire audience was singing, no, screaming, along with to every word of every song as if their life depended on it. Say what you will about MGK but his music has a way to touch people and you could feel that energy wafting throughout The Armory during his set.
Although the stage setup was huge and there was some pyrotechnics, MGK’s set was oddly understated for the mega-superstar he has become with this latest album. I think I was expecting some more surprise guests or maybe just more explosions of fireworks and pyro but I was glad when none of that happened if I’m being quite honest. Although I have said my fair share of bad things about this performer in the past, it was great to see him hold his own and prove his talent and heart on stage. Like Jxdn’s performance, there was something beautiful about the energy that radiated off the stage and it’s exactly what I wanted to feel as I heard MGK play through the songs that have been on repeat for me the past year.
As I was driving home last night, I was trying to lay out all of the things I wanted to write about in this post but, after waking up this morning, I realized that all of those words meant nothing. A lot of people hate on MGK and a lot of people will call me a hypocrite for being so obsessed with an album from a musician that I had sworn off years ago. The fact is, Machine Gun Kelly absolutely killed his performance last night whether you like his music or not. His connection with his fans is incredible and the way he writes words that connect on such a deep level for so many people is staggering. That’s a feeling that was felt throughout last night that I can’t put into words.