Machine Gun Kelly | Avril Lavigne | Willow – Moda Center – Portland, Oregon – July 21, 2022

I’ve never seen a line of fans as long as it was for the Machine Gun Kelly Mainstream Sellout Tour. Maybe KISS was a close contender?  From teenage to senior, Portland came out in droves to see the show.

Up first was Willow, daughter of famed Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith…however, she doesn’t even need that mention.  Clearly talented, the 21 year old vocalist/guitarist was the STAR of the entire show.

She is a great songwriter, brought us perfect pitch with coolness at every turn.  She belted out songs with passion and flair, kneeling and leaning back during a guitar solo, as if to participate in the notes.  While her voice is strong and gritty at times, between every song, in a sweet voice, she said a simple, “thank you.”

Willow’s set on this night included:

  • Transparentalsoul
  • Gaslight
  • Don’t SAVE ME
  • Lipstick
  • Come Home
  • Meet Me at Our Spot
  • Wait a Minute
  • (maybe) it’s my fault

She riled the crowd up for the bands to follow, and absolutely blew me away.  Willow is a star in her own right.

Next up was Avril Lavigne. Looking as if she hadn’t aged in 20 years, her extremely long blonde and orange hair seemed to be annoying her and she had, what appeared to be an earpiece malfunction towards the end, but it didn’t stop her from delighting the packed house at Portland, Oregon’s Moda Center.

While Lavigne’s energy was a little lackluster, her voice and song choice made up for that; the fans just wanted to see the petite songstress and hear the beloved songs that so many grew up with. The beautiful streamers shot from the stage fluttered down to the fans and the giant orange and black balls made for some good fun.  She was humble and on-point, however, less energetic than you’d expect.  But aren’t we all 20 years later?  Of note, with the exception of her new songs, the crowd was defining singing along with Ms. Lavigne, and her heart-shaped gigantic diamond engagement ring sparkled like the star she is.

Avril’s set included:

  • Girlfriend
  • Bite Me
  • What the Hell
  • Complicated
  • My Happy Ending
  • Love it When You Hate Me
  • Sk8er Boi
  • I’m With You

(Two days later, as this review is written, “hey hey you you, I don’t like your girlfriend….” Still runs through my head, which is a sign of a fantastic song.)

As you walked into the Moda Center, the first thing you noticed was the helicopter hanging from the ceiling.  Rumor had it that MGK would arrive in a helicopter, but we were all wondering how that would happen.  I envisioned an entitled rock star saying, “I want to be delivered in a helicopter, and have only green m&m’s as part of my ryder.”  However, that was not the case.

MGK’s tongue in cheek, silly, “I’m stuck in a box,” (a literal reference to social media) and a helicopter pilot coming to pick him up was fun.  The helicopter moved from its stationary position to the opposite side of the arena, lowered a ladder, and picked up MGK.  He then proceeded to ride the ladder all of the way back to the stage.  Speaking of the stage, it was a circular tilted black and white checkered stage.  I’d never seen anything like it.  Kelly, dressed in pink sparkly pants and a disco ball shirt, broke into, “Born with Horns,” and never slowed down.  He cracked some well-timed jokes, laughed at his own pants, and thoroughly entertained the crowd with his believable, sometimes whiney, heart-felt songs.

MGK is no poser.  Like him or not, he is talented in both genres – pop and rap, showing us both on this night.   He exited the stage on the side and ventured out into the crowd on the floor, and in the stands, and rocked out in all of his pinkness with energy and conviction.

His feud with Slipknot’s Corey Taylor or even Eminem – doesn’t even matter once he gets on stage.  This Slipknot fan thoroughly enjoyed MGK for what he is, which is simply a top-notch performer.  Even if you are unfamiliar with his songs, which I was, it was an enjoyable experience.  Judging from the crowd participation, I may have been the only one unfamiliar.

I expect MGK will rise to even greater heights with his talent and passion for music in whatever genre he decides he wants.  As portrayed in his opening, we should do better at not putting people in “boxes.”


Avril Lavigne

Machine Gun Kelly (MGK)