Machine Gun Kelly gives Noblesville Ruoff crowd an energetic show
Say what you want about Machine Gun Kelly, but he knows how to entertain a crowd.
The 32-year-old Cleveland native performed a packed show at the Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville as part of his Mainstream Sellout Tour on Thursday night. Kelly – née Colson Baker – shared an evening with Hoosiers filled with musical surprises, deeply emotional moments and a personal vendetta against the internet.
Opening for Kelly was R&B-turned-punk-pop artist Willow Smith, known professionally as Willow. The singer took the stage at 7:45 p.m., about 15 minutes before her scheduled set, and wasted no time in pissing off the crowd.
Dressed in ripped tights, a fuzzy crocheted hat, yellow tinted glasses, and a t-shirt she was practically swimming in, Willow performed a short but sweet set; her siren-like soprano voice echoing throughout the room.
Packed inside Ruoff, a sea of what Kelly later estimated to be around 17,000 fans – mostly dressed in the artist’s signature pink and black – resembled that of the early to mid-2000s. pop punk concerts. The colored hair, ripped jeans, fishnet tights, and combat boots worn by the majority of the audience were quite fashionable for a gig like this, albeit with a heightened sense of nervousness.
Kelly’s filming began with a humorous and theatrical opening, where he is shown onscreen being trapped in a box by a monster called “the Internet”, and is forced to call someone to come save him. This signals flashing lights and the pink and black striped propeller helicopter rigged to the ceiling of the amphitheater to descend towards the stage for Kelly to hitch a ride.
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When Kelly finally took the stage just before 9 p.m., the amphitheater erupted in cheers and shouts as he swung down the helicopter ladder – no safety harness, just hanging on by one arm and vibes – as he launched into “born with horns.”
Kelly’s entire stage setup was odd to say the least: a round, black-and-white-checkered angled platform sat beneath an accumulation of TV screen props and the aforementioned pink-and-black helicopter. Bullet-riddled trash cans lined the front of the stage framing Kelly and his mannequin arm mic stand that doubled as an ashtray – which the singer used liberally throughout the night.
Dressed in a rhinestone encrusted crop top and black velvet cheetah print pants with large silver chains attached to the front and pale pink hair, Kelly’s appearance almost mimics that of her fans in the crowd. Nonetheless, his eccentricity and unique stage presence ensured that the momentum of the show remained constant.
However, some moments between songs feel almost like a resting point, a complete stoppage of the show as Kelly candidly engaged with the crowd, cracking jokes and taking time to introduce her band. Other moments felt like a whiplash, switching between the background plot of the “internet” enemy character – materialized as a large TV-like screenhead above a body giant inflatable – who appears at seemingly random times if only to insult Kelly in various ways.
“I am the internet,” bellowed the head of the television screen in a mechanical voice. “I say what I want about people.”
They bicker on stage at different times during the set.
“The Internet has a power over your mind that you need to [expletive] get rid of,” Kelly said later, addressing the crowd once more. “Beauty is in you [expletive] the eyes; your taste, your life is in your heart. Don’t let this place take your light.
It’s kind of weird, and the whole concept doesn’t make much sense in the context of a concert. However, his words are meaningful and his argument is well made.
These and other moments felt less like a concert and more like a convoluted cabaret where anything is possible between plot, props and setlist, including a randomly enlarged figure of a woman who is mentioned once and more. never for the duration of the show.
On more than one occasion, Kelly made her way into the audience, engaging directly with the audience while performing “drug dealer” and “ay!” and again during “make up sex” and “my ex’s best friend” near the end of the set.
Kelly then invited Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker to join him on stage to play some songs from his latest album, “Mainstream sellout,” which he also said Barker helped write and produce.
“I want to bring out someone who’s been supporting me since day one,” he said as Barker takes the stage and takes a seat on drums at the top of the inclined stage. Kelly said Barker’s thumb was broken, among other issues, but he came to play for Indiana anyway.
Together they performed several songs including “5150”, “love race” and “bloody valentine” – the last of which Kelly invited two children from the crowd to take the stage with him.
The smell of choice herbs in the air was almost dizzying as Kelly continued to play through ‘Bloody Valentine’ momentarily pausing to say, ‘Okay Indiana, I want to see your ladies’, prompting dozens of girls to be hoisted onto the shoulders of boyfriends, friends and whoever else came with them for the rest of the song.
Next in the set came a well-meaning cover of Blink-182’s “All the Small Things”, before the elusive “Internet” figure returned and Kelly dove into more rap songs such as “roll the windows up” and “El Diablo.”
To say that the whole atmosphere of the concert changed during these songs would be an understatement. With dramatic lighting changes and heavy 808s mixing with live drums, the next few songs featured a battle between “The Internet” and the helicopter, which fired pyrotechnics to defeat it.
Despite opening for him earlier that night, Willow didn’t join Kelly on stage during “emo girl.” However, few people seemed to notice and started dancing, screaming and doing fierce headbangs.
Finally, Kelly pointed to the full moon, which had slowly risen and peaked over the course of the show. He even made people in the crowd turn around and stare at the moon as it sat just above the amphitheater lawn line.
“You are all so beautiful and the moon is so beautiful,” he said before playing “lonely.” “I love you more than you will ever know.”
Almost the entire gig was played with the Kelly cigarette in hand, only putting it down to pick up one of many pink and black guitars or the occasional acoustic guitar, as with the last song, “Twin Flame”. -halo on the stage as fog swirled around, creating an awkward moment as cellphone flashlights came on throughout the amphitheater.
The moment was sweet and seemed to last a lifetime. Spectators slowly filtered out of the amphitheater as Kelly wished them well and closed the show.
Contact IndyStar reporter Chloe McGowan at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @chloe_mcgowanxx.