Hellfest 2023 – Friday. The job of following Def Leppard would weigh heavily on any artist. The fact that Machine Gun Kelly is best known as a Rap/Pop Punk singer makes it seem more of a challenge. If there is a wildcard at this year’s Hellfest, then MGK is surely it.
Entering on top of a glowing pyramid with guitar in hand, MGK certainly knows how to put on a spectacle. Backed by a razer-sharp band including rising guitar hero Sophie Lloyd, MGK rips through a number of pop punk singles before inviting his friend and co-star Tommy Lee onstage to do some drumming on Concert For Aliens.
It’s a clever trick to try and win over a demanding crowd.
It’s not all smooth sailing, though. MGK is visibly awkward and nervous throughout, and his attempts at crowd banter go over like a lead balloon. “I’ve got so much French pride,” he says. “I’ve eaten French bread my whole life.”
After an awkward minute spent messing with a keyboard/sampler, in silence, MGK lights up a spliff and continues on. A fairly flat cover of Tom Petty’s Free Falling is an interesting choice, but things get back on track with his own songs like Candy and Emo Girl.
Finishing his set with a bang of WW4 and My Ex’s Best Friend, MGK salutes the crowd and receives a warm, if slightly confused, round of applause.
Ending the set with the video of his latest single was not a good move either, but it was a performance that was both fresh and got fans talking. A future placement with other pop-punk artists on the bill would be a better fit for all concerned, but there can be no doubt that Machine Gun Kelly made it through his baptism of fire at Hellfest.
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