EST Over Everything: MGK returns to Edmonton [Review]
Edmonton, AB – Originally published December 11, 2014 – Machine Gun Kelly has been unstoppable ever since he kicked off the No Class Tour in September. Taking the smallest amount of breaks in between shows, MGK wasted no time jumping feet first into the Canadian leg of the tour. The big homies at Nightshift Entertainment brought Kells, along with [EST 19XX-signed] Dub-O, to perform a sold-out show at Union Hall on December 5. HipHopCanada was a proud sponsor of the Edmonton stop.
If you know anything about MGK’s following then you know it’s something of a phenomenon. His fans absolutely worship him, so I wasn’t at all surprised to see Union Hall packed by no later than 10:00 p.m. (now that’s how you start a show). I also wasn’t surprised to see the young crowd of 20-somethings dripped in MGK everything; EST 19XX and Lace-Up T-shirts were a common trend, and you could easily point out the people who weren’t donning the classic black EST bandanna. For those unfamiliar: EST (Everyone Stands Together) is not only MGK’s [founded] record label, it’s become a movement and a lifestyle for his fans.
Local acts for the night included; Dizzy, Young Tox, Mitchell Lawler & Conch, and Doom Squad. Dizzy was also our host for the night as he and his P.I.C., DJ Grizz, did a damn fine job holding down the crowd in between sets. I don’t know if it was the energy in the room, or the fact that Union Hall was packed by the time the openers started, but that must have been one of the best local sets I’ve seen to date. Each and every performer did work on that stage. I just hope that Edmonton continues to show-up and give our locals the recognition they deserve. Well done boys. A special guest from Vancouver, Immaculate, also graced the stage with a lively performance. Props go out to him, as he’s taken the role as official support of the Canadian tour.
The night continued on with Dizzy and DJ Grizz keeping the crowd hype, while the countdown to MGK’s arrival [on stage] continued on the TV screens. (Side note: I loved the concept of the countdown. Rap shows are notorious for never starting on time and this way there was some accountability. A classy move on the No Class Tour). Just as the countdown was down to it’s final minutes, MGK’s official DJ, DJ Ace, hit the one’s and two’s to introduce Dub-O.
The Edmonton stop of the No Class Tour marked Dub-O’s second visit to our city [this year]. It’s clear that he left a good first impression, because the crowd lost their shit throughout his entire performance. If this is a small indication of what Dub-O has in store for us, then I’d say his future for a following in E-Town is bright.
Kells’ band members took their positions on stage as the crowd erupted with deafening screams. “Are you ready for MGK? Put your Motha F*ckin’ L’s in the air!” DJ Ace bellowed into the mic. The crowd obliged as the band broke into a sample of System of a Down’s “Ariels.” Donning all black with combat boots and a Guy Fawkes mask, MGK calmly took to the stage. With the music behind him intensifying and his right-hand and hype-man, Slim Gudz, by his side Kells got down to business and opened his set with “See My Tears.”
“Edmonton, me and you have got f*ckin history!” MGK addressed the crowd. True story, this marked his third (sold-out) performance in Edmonton in the last three years. The love for Kells runs deep in this city. Over the next 45 minutes, we didn’t just watch a show, it was a full-blown experience. Never in my life have I witnessed that much intensity in an artist. The “machine” in Machine Gun Kelly shouldn’t just refer to his warp-speed flow, he literally moves like a machine. During [Steve Aoki’s] “Free the Madness”; a now shirtless (and swoon-worthy) MGK jumped off the stage, crowd-surfed to the stairwell leading to the second level of the building, climbed onto the balcony, then scaled the top railing before returning to the stage. How he even got back to the stage? No clue. It all happened in a blink of an eye.
As mentioned, MGK’s fans worship him, and by worship I mean they literally treat him like a god (especially the ladies). His words alone touched the crowd in such a way that you could see the emotions running through them (some were brought to tears, which is a rare thing to see at a rap show). “Swing Life Away,” “Invincible,” “All We Have” and “Raise the Flag;” you couldn’t help but feel goosebumps when Kells belted out those gems. When he moved on to more up-tempo joints like “Half Naked & Almost Famous”, “Ocho Cinco” and “Wild Boy,” Kells had the entire building in a free-for-all.
Now lets talk about MGK’s band. With the marathon of energy that MGK exudes, you’d think it would be impossible to keep up with him. Wrong. Their stage presence was just as dynamic and hard-hitting as his. All 3 members; Rook (drums), AJ (guitar), and Baze (bass) each shred that stage in their own right. Not to forget, DJ Ace and Slim Gudz just added fuel to the fire. A highlight for me was “Sail” when the entire ensemble rocked the stage – scratch that – rocked the entire building so hard that it felt electrifying. You don’t see punk-rock moments like that in hip-hop, hell, you don’t see bands like that in hip-hop.
Before closing the night with “Mind of a Stoner,” MGK addressed the crowd one last time, thanking them for all of the continued support since day one. This wasn’t just your generic “thanks for coming out guys” speech. This was pure genuine gratitude. You don’t hear MGK on the radio, or in the clubs, nor does he endorse your favourite liquor or champagne (although I’m sure his love-affair with Jameson alone, has sold a hefty amount of bottles). Yet Kells continues to sell-out shows and has fans that would follow him to the moon and back.
His cult-like following is living proof that you don’t need the “big-wigs” in the industry, nor constant radio play to make it. His fans believe in him and they believe in his music. It’s without question MGK is for the people and has the utmost faith in his fans and their loyalty.
The Canadian leg of the No Class Tour ends on December 13 in Vancouver. If you’re in the area, then I wouldn’t sleep on the opportunity to see the rock-star that is MGK. His super-human, see-to-believe performance will leave you hype for days and will turn even the biggest critic into a fan overnight.
Special thank-you to Nightshift Entertainment for making HipHopCanada part of this event.
Written by Rosa Jason for HipHopCanada
Photos: MGK at Union Hall in Edmonton
Photography by Andrew Lynn for HipHopCanada
Twitter:@MachineGunKelly | @Nightshift_Ent
Tags: AJ, Baze, Dizzy, DJ Ace, DJ Grizz, Doom Squad, Dub-O, EST 19XX, Immaculate, Machine Gun Kelly, MGK, Mitchell Lawler & Conch, Nightshift Entertainment, Rome Angel, Rook, Slim Gudz, Union Hall, Young Tox