[intro-text size=”25px”]On Saturday, Machine Gun Kelly and a roster of 15 local acts took over the Agora parking lot for Kelly’s Road Trippin’ Tour. Note that I have never been to an MGK show, also note, that I’m not a fan of his music. I am however, a fan of Cleveland and MGK’s song “Till I Die” is an undeniable anthem for The Land.[/intro-text]
MGK fans are die-hard-they live to ‘Lace Up!’ and I stand there politely. When I arrived at Kelly’s Road Trippin’ Tour, I right away noticed the onslaught of MGK gear and the diverse age range of bandanas, I mean fans. There was everything from grandmothers to preschoolers and every age in between. The performance slots seemed incredibly short for the 15 opening-act performers, each only had about 30 minutes.
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[intro-text size=”13px”]photography by Jae Andres[/intro-text]
Dub-O went on as the last opener before MGK and his 30 minutes went off without a hitch, just like all the other acts. I did find out after the show that there was a strict curfew, so a pat on the back to the show coordinators for pulling it off. After Dub-O’s time was up, the crowd began to buzz. And with a quick transition, the white sheet that worked as the backdrop became a screen with a video short. The intro video featured MGK and his crew driving a van that soon enough breaks down. When the van breaks down, Kelly’s solution is to eat a bunch of acid and trip out. Suddenly the sheet comes down with a loud whack of the snare drum from the live band. Lights burst with color on the stage and MGK does not waste a beat, he goes right into it. I was not expecting such presence, he really gives it all he’s got. The crowd hungrily eats up every line and every microphone trick. They love him, he ‘puts on’ for them; he puts on so hard that not even an injured leg could stop him from moving around the stage and giving the crowd a few high jumps. The boy can entertain. This was not your run-of-the-mill rap show in which a mob of the artist’s friends on the stage with everyone yelling flows over each other. No, every person on that stage had a purpose from the live band, to the DJ, the hype man and even a performance from the most absurdly talented kid violinist. He definitely made sure the fans got their money’s worth and then some.
I started to relax a little bit more and then my photographer spotted B & M’s food truck on the other side of the fenced off lot. We followed the intoxicating aroma of BBQ and ordered a half slab with greens and yams to share. After a few rips at the rib bone, I moved onto the yams. Oh my goodness, those yams. They were sweet, sort of peachy, and warm with cinnamon. I looked up to the sky at that moment and thanked the Universe for bringing me to this MGK show so I could experience the glory that is B&M’s food. Then, just like that, it happened…MGK rallied the crowd together for his final song, which obviously was, “Till I Die.” As the piano intro played out he did what any self-respecting rapper would do at a show in his hometown, he brought his people to the stage. Moms, cousins, and a couple kids filled the stage and when that the song dropped, the whole place was jumping with palpable intensity. And just like that, I was in. I raised my rib bone to the sky and bounced along. It finally dawned on me that the rest of the crowd had probably found their rib connect earlier in the day and that must have been the overwhelming sense of happiness I seemed to be missing upon arrival.
Now, I had a deeper understanding of the MGK connection. A connection that runs deep, due to our mutual love for the Land…and BBQ, till we die…