Mykki Blanco Marquee Club, Halifax NS, May 28

Mykki Blanco Marquee Club, Halifax NS, May 28
Photo: Steve Louie
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There was a fevered atmosphere in Halifax's Marquee Club ahead of Friday night's headlining OBEY Convention performance from Orange County rapper Mykki Blanco. Part of that, certainly, was the anticipation of seeing a provocative, exciting artist seemingly on the verge of breaking out to a much larger audience.
 
It was also thanks to an unexpectedly lengthy set from Toronto DJ Bambii (Kirsten Azan), who is supporting Blanco on this tour and stepped in when original opener Rabit unfortunately got caught up in flight problems. Her wickedly entertaining mixing of hip-hop hits and R&B gems — peaking with Beyoncé's "Formation" — had the crowd peaking when Blanco (born Michael Quattlebaum Jr.) bounded onto the stage wearing a pair of bright Everlast boxing shorts over a fishnet bodysuit.
 
The outfit may have screamed "fight" — as did leaping right into her verses on Friendzone's 2013's Adult Swim single "Who Wanna Rumble" — but the message was love. "I wanna be loved by you and nobody else but you," sang Blanco as she took the stage, vamping on the Some Like It Hot classic. Later, she asked the crowd to take a pledge of self-respect: "I promise that I'm respecting myself this summer… no one can teach you to take care of yourself but you."
 
That statement came following a gripping performance of her new single "High School Never Ends." The track is one of many newer songs Blanco performed, all of which were received with the same enthusiasm as older material like "Haze Boogie Life" and "Wavvy." The crowd was feeding off Blanco's own enthusiasm as much as the material: she bounced freely across the stage, stopped to perform a ballet dance at one point, invited a good dozen showgoers to join her onstage at another and, towards set's end, dove into the crowd and stood on top of one of the Marquee's bar railings, dancing wildly to a rabid response.
 
"When I hit the stage it be like a tsunami," rapped Blanco, performing Gay Dog Food track "Fulani." It's a fitting line for a performer who overpowers boundaries (gender, genre and beyond) with her infectious energy, last night leaving the crowd, together, caught up in her wave.