I arrived in Cleveland the day before
Machine Gun Kelly
’s Ho Ho Homecoming Show and knew from the moment I set foot in the historic Agora Theater for sound check, this show was going to be something special. During the seven hour soundcheck, I wandered the halls of the ornate, historic theater, excited to know that MGK was about to join the likes of Elvis, The Beatles, and Jay-Z as performers who have graced its stage.
Outside, I met fans who’s decision to wait outside for over 24 hours in the freezing rain proved worthy, as MGK spent an hour curled up in blankets and camping gear entertaining them with tour stories. Back inside, warming myself by a heater on the side of the stage, I watched as MGK and his crew-turned-family perfected every last detail of the two-hour set he would perform in front of 2,200 fans the following night.
Turns out my instincts were absolutely right. I cannot even call what happened that night a show; it was an outpouring of real, raw emotion—from not only MGK and his crew, but also from every last one of the 2,200 fans in the crowd. When MGK dumped Ciroc on the crowd, they cheered. When he crowd surfed, they supported him. When he cried, they cried. When he brought his daughter on stage, they chanted her name. When he dropped into the crowd after climbing into the 40 foot-tall balcony, they somehow caught him while the rest of us gasped in fear!
This rollercoaster ride of emotions was no ordinary concert. I’m still not sure how to describe it, but I know that it was so much more. MGK tells nearly everyone he talks to “I started making music to save myself, and ended up saving everyone else.” As I documented the complete range of emotions floating around the Agora that evening, I knew that there was more truth to that statement than I ever could have imagined.
All photos by