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Machine Gun Kelly + Avril Lavigne at Footprint Center

July 11 @ 8:00 pm - 11:30 pm

Delivering lyrics with the speed of a bullet train, Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly experienced a meteoric rise in late 2011 when he transitioned from grinding out self-released mixtapes to working with major labels. From there, the rapper skyrocketed to superstar status, with each of his albums charting in the Top Ten. A beef with Eminem, a film career, and even some reality show appearances would follow as the high-powered lyrical rap style of albums like 2019’s Hotel Diablo morphed into a driving emo-rock sound on collaborations with Travis Barker and on the Barker-produced 2020 album Tickets to My Downfall, which topped the Billboard 200. Kelly worked alongside Barker again in 2022 on album number six, Mainstream Sellout.

Born Colson Baker in Texas but raised in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, Machine Gun Kelly began making music in his teens and made news in 2009 when he became the first rapper to win amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. A series of mixtapes, including 100 Words and Running, Lace Up, and Rage Pack, came next, and a 2011 performance at South by Southwest was followed immediately by a meeting with Sean Combs. Kelly signed with Comb‘s Bad Boy imprint that night and released the single “Wild Boy” on the label the same year. The track featured special guest Waka Flocka Flame, and Kelly’s debut album, Lace Up, landed in 2012. During this time, he also signed a deal with Young & Restless to work on a clothing line. The Black Flag mixtape arrived in 2013, featuring appearances by French Montana, Pusha T, Meek Mill, Wiz Khalifa, and Sleeping with Sirens‘ Kellin Quinn.

In 2015, he released his sophomore effort, General Admission, a dark, autobiographical LP that peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 and topped the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Kelly released the “Bad Things” single in 2016; the duet with ex-Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello became the first Top Ten single for both artists. In 2017, Kelly issued his third full-length, Bloom. In addition to “Bad Things,” the effort included collaborations with Hailee Steinfeld (“At My Best”), Quavo and Ty Dolla $ign (“Trap Paris”), James Arthur (“Go for Broke”), and DubXX (“Moonwalkers”). Bloom debuted in the Top Ten of the Billboard 200, peaking at number three on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

Following the success of the gold-certified third album Bloom, Kelly received an unexpected boost in 2018 from an unlikely source: major influence Eminem, who resurrected a 2012 beef stemming from offhand comments about the Detroit rapper’s daughter. On Eminem‘s Kamikaze attack “Not Alike,” he lobbed a direct shot at Kelly, who quickly responded with the biting diss track “Rap Devil.” As tabloid headlines swirled, the latter song entered the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop chart Top Ten, jumping to number 13 on the Hot 100. Capitalizing on the surprise boost in exposure, Kelly issued the EP Binge, a dark, trap-influenced set that marked a return to form with a focused flow and sly wordplay. Unencumbered by the star-studded distractions of the pop-friendly Bloom (rapper 24hrs is the only feature), Binge debuted at number 24 on the Billboard 200, also charting in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 2019 found Kelly portraying Mötley CrĂŒe drummer Tommy Lee in The Dirt, a stylized biopic on the rise and fall of the hair metal legends. In May of that year, he released the single “Hollywood Whore,” the first offering from his fourth album, Hotel Diablo. Landing that July, the introspective set featured additional singles “El Diablo” and “I Think I’m Okay,” as well as guests Lil Skies, Trippie Redd, Yungblud, and Travis Barker.

After Hotel Diablo, things shifted for Machine Gun Kelly, as his focus became more split between music and acting. On the music side of things, the rock-leaning Travis Barker collaboration “I Think I’m Okay” led to the duo working on more songs together and ultimately to Barker acting as executive producer on fifth album Tickets to My Downfall. Singles that preceded the record were a sharp turn from Machine Gun Kelly’s established rap sound. In April 2020, he released “Bloody Valentine,” an upbeat and melodic emo pop song dotted with synth touches. Successive singles “Concert for Aliens” and “Misery Business” followed a similar stylistic change-up. Tickets to My Downfall was released in late September 2020 and became Kelly’s first number one album. In March 2021, he reached number eight on the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart with his non-album single “DayWalker” featuring Corpse Husband. Early 2022 saw the release of the grunge-tinged rocker “Papercuts,” the lead single from his sixth full-length effort. Originally titled Born with Horns, the album was retitled Mainstream Sellout, and saw Kelly working once more with Barker as co-producer. The album also featured a number of guest contributors, including two songs with Lil Wayne, an interlude featuring comedian/actor Pete Davidson, and appearances throughout from Willow, blackbear, Gunna, Bring Me the Horizon, and others. Mainstream Sellout was released in March of 2022. ~ Fred Thomas & Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi

Grammy-winning Canadian pop/rock singer/songwriter Avril Lavigne became an international star in the 2000s with her punk-influenced pop anthems and anti-starlet image. First appearing in 2002 with the spunky debut single “Complicated,” she touted a skatepunk image that purposely clashed with the polished glamour of mainstream pop. Lavigne, who was 17 at the time, quickly rose to teen idol status, selling several million copies of her debut album, Let Go (the best-selling album by a female artist in 2002), while inspiring a genuine fashion craze with her penchant for tank tops and neckties. As the decade progressed, so did Lavigne’s marketable sound, which took a contemplative turn on the chart-topping sophomore effort Under My Skin before reaching an aggressively upbeat tone for 2007’s The Best Damn Thing. A pair of hit albums later, she took a three-year hiatus from the spotlight to focus on health issues related to Lyme disease, returning in 2019 with her mature sixth album, Head Above Water. In 2021, she made her debut for Travis Barker‘s DTA label with the pop-punk single “Bite Me” from 2022’s Love Sux.

Born into a devout Christian household in the small town of Napanee, Ontario, Lavigne sharpened her vocal talents in church choirs, local festivals, and county fairs. She began playing guitar and writing songs in her early teens, focusing her early efforts on country music and contributing vocals to several albums by local folk musician Steve Medd. Arista Records caught wind of the singer and brought her aboard at the age of 16, with CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid personally taking Lavigne under his wing. She quit high school, relocated to Manhattan, and set to work with a handful of prime songwriters and producers, but the partnerships only produced country songs, not the rock music in which Lavigne had become increasingly interested. Arista relented and instead sent Lavigne to Los Angeles, where she fashioned her melodic, edgy debut alongside such writing teams as the Matrix. Released in 2002, Let Go was the polished product, and its four high-charting singles — “Complicated,” “Sk8er Boi,” “I’m with You,” and “Losing Grip” — led the album to multi-platinum status within its second month of release. Lavigne became the youngest female musician ever to have a number one album in the U.K., and she supported the wildly popular LP (which eventually gained eight Grammy nominations) with a tour of Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia.

Compared with the antics of other teen idols of her day, Lavigne was a new kind of superstar, one whose appeal didn’t rely on sexy videos or suggestive music. She further distinguished herself by bypassing the assistance of professional writing teams during the creation of her second album, choosing instead to collaborate with singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, Evanescence‘s Ben Moody, and Evan Taubenfeld (who had previously worked with Lavigne as her touring guitarist). Released in May 2004, Under My Skin was more serious than its predecessor, dealing with such issues as premarital sex (“Don’t Tell Me”), depression (“Nobody’s Home”), and the death of Lavigne’s grandfather (“Slipped Away”). The album debuted at number one in more than ten countries, went platinum within one month, and further established Lavigne as a pop icon. Incidentally, a song that was co-written by Lavigne and ultimately cut from the final track list — “Breakaway” — was later given to Kelly Clarkson, who used it as the title track and lead single for her Grammy-winning sophomore album.

Lavigne married her boyfriend of two years, Sum 41‘s Deryck Whibley, in July 2006, just one month after the animated film Over the Hedge announced her cinematic debut (Lavigne voiced the part of Heather, a hungry opossum). She also appeared in Richard Linklater‘s fictional adaptation of Fast Food Nation, which was released that November. Nevertheless, she spent most of the year working on her third album, enlisting former blink-182 drummer Travis Barker to play drums, and cherry-picking a variety of producers (including her husband) to helm the recording sessions. The Best Damn Thing appeared in April 2007, and its lead single, “Girlfriend,” marked a return to the bratty, spunky punk-pop of her first album. “Girlfriend” soon became the subject of controversy as the ’70s power pop band the Rubinoos sued Lavigne, claiming that her tune reworked their 1979 song “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” No amount of bad publicity could hurt the singer, however, as “Girlfriend” became her biggest U.S. single ever and The Best Damn Thing topped album charts worldwide.

Lavigne filed for divorce from Whibley in October of 2009. The dissolution of their union featured heavily on her next album, 2011’s Goodbye Lullaby, which included tracks produced by Whibley.

Lavigne returned to the studio just weeks after the release of Goodbye Lullaby and began work on her fifth album. In 2012, she started working on material with Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger and eventually the pair began dating; she married Kroeger on July 1, 2013. By that point, she had released the platinum-certified “Here’s to Never Growing Up,” the first single from her eponymous fifth album. Released in October, Avril Lavigne featured eight songs co-written by Kroeger, who also duetted with her on the record’s third single, “Let Me Go.”

In early 2015, Lavigne released “Fly,” an empowering ballad written for the Special Olympics World Summer Games. That same month, she also revealed that she had been diagnosed with Lyme disease. Soon after, she separated from Kroeger. For the next few years, as she healed, she remained out of the public spotlight. In 2018, she returned with the single “Head Above Water,” which was inspired by her battle with Lyme disease; it unexpectedly made the Christian radio top 10. Despite this success, the accompanying album, Head Above Water — which appeared in February 2019 — was a secular pop album, albeit one with an inspirational bent. While her worst-charting long-player to that point, it still reached Canada’s Top Five, the U.K. Top Ten, and number 13 on the Billboard 200.

After re-recording Head Above Water‘s “Warrior” as “We Are Warriors” to raise funds for pandemic relief efforts in 2020, Lavigne returned to the studio to record her seventh album with producers including Barker, Machine Gun Kelly, Mod Sun, and Goldfinger‘s John Feldmann. In the meantime, she was featured on the Mod Sun single “Flames” in early 2021, and with Barker on Willow Smith‘s “Grow” mid-year before signing with Barker‘s Elektra Music Group imprint, DTA Records. Her own single, “Bite Me,” appeared before the end of 2021. That punk-infused anthem landed on her seventh full-length, 2022’s Love Sux, which also featured “Love It When You Hate Me” with Blackbear.