Watch Machine Gun Kelly tear through Papercuts before smashing his guitar to pieces at the MTV VMAs

Machine Gun Kelly
(Image credit: John Shearer/Getty Images)

Machine Gun Kelly took to the stage last night at the star-studded MTV Video Music Awards to perform his latest track, Papercuts.

In a new video of the performance posted to MTV's YouTube channel, the Cleveland rapper-turned-rocker is once again seen alongside longtime collaborator Travis Barker – who also played on the studio version of the track – as he delivers a series of bendy leads and angsty powerchords with his trademark single-humbucker Schecter PT.

Alongside the track's Whammy-driven outro lead – which we expected, but were thrilled to see replicated in a live capacity – MGK includes a brand-new verse with rapped vocals, and finishes the performance by utterly obliterating his poor six-string, no doubt inspired by past guitar-smashing antics from the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Pete Townshend and others.

The VMAs was a rather eventful night for Machine Gun Kelly who, prior to his blistering performance, was also involved in an altercation with UFC star Conor McGregor.

Papercuts is the first single from MGK's forthcoming album Born With Horns. Like his previous LP Tickets to my Downfall – which was the Ohio native's first foray into pop-punk and similarly guitar-driven music – his new effort features the drumming of Blink-182's Travis Barker throughout.

Commemorating the album's announcement last month, the pair revealed brand-new matching 'Born With Horns' tattoos on their forearms.

And if you're a fan of his musical reinvention, you'll be pleased to hear there's plenty more guitar-driven material to come from MGK.

In a March 2021 interview with LA-based radio station KROQ, the guitar-toting rocker promised to continue “breaking the mould,” saying he's looking to “piss people off all over again” with his new music.

“Even when I say, ‘break the mould and piss people off all over again’, I just mean make them think again; make them have a moment of like, ‘This artist is so polarizing [that] I have to tune in.”

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.