Gig review: RBMA presents A Night With LuckyMe feat Mykki Blanco, The Glue Factory, Glasgow, Sun 29 Mar
A speaker-humping, towel-swinging, 'taps aff', punk-rap night to remember
Mykki Blanco, the alter-ego of the rapper and performance artist Michael Quattlebaum Jr, returns to Glasgow on the back of the announcement she's quitting music to train as an investigative journalist, with a special focus on homosexuality and gay culture in remote parts of the world.
In May, Quattlebaum will travel to Nepal to research LGBT rights and the 'third gender' group referred to as Meti. More power to him. And as Mykki assures us during the show, 'just cos I'm becoming a journalist doesn't mean I'll never make another song.'
Since her debut in a 2010 YouTube video, Mykki Blanco has evolved into a multi-gendered, multi-faceted character, with voices that range from a raspy holler to a sassy teenage girl. Tonight, she's ditched the wigs and dresses for a ski-jacket, bare torso and gym shorts, with a sports-visor over her close-cropped peroxide hair. The ski-jacket doesn't last long: this is a high-energy performance. Taps aff is the only way to go.
Don't think Blanco's background in punk and riot grrrl means she's not a 'real' rapper: her flow is as powerful as it is flexible, while her rhymes are witty, righteous and defiant, mixing pop cultural references with unfuckwithable battle raps. What she does have over some rappers, however, is a fully committed approach to live performance, one that draws on punk, club and queer culture as much as more traditional hip-hop stage craft.
The set begins with little fanfare. Mykki's DJ gets to work as soon as Edinburgh electronic-pop band NAKED finish. A few shout outs to 'Glasg-ow' and it's straight into 'Moshin' In The Front', the NAKED-produced banger from Blanco's excellent 2014 mixtape Gay Dog Food. 'Make a circle! Make a motherfucking circle!' she commands. The crowd parts and Blanco struts onto the dancefloor, artfully carrying the side table which will become a platform and a prop during the first half of the set.
Performing right in the middle of the dancefloor is a masterstroke, allowing the audience to get up close and feed off Blanco's incredible energy. Between songs there are a capella raps and a glorious rendition of 'I Wanna Be Loved By You', with Blanco doing her best Marilyn Monroe routine, all pouting lips and out-stretched legs. After a ridiculously exciting 15 minutes or so, Blanco returns to the stage to perform in front of a backdrop of rushing red and yellow lights. She doesn't stay there long, however, and is soon back on the dancefloor, flexing with the microphone stand to the snapping beats and almost indecently filthy bass frequencies.
Blanco returns to the stage for the final sequence of songs, humping the speaker stacks and making theatrical with a plain white towel. Songs that are hot on record sound all the more intense live. 'Bugged Out' is a highlight, its sinister drill-rap beats taking on a dank basement psychedelic vibe, with Blanco singing the 'in my head' refrain in an increasingly desperate and defiant tone. 'Feeling Special' goes down a trippy minimal rabbit hole, while vogue house snap track 'Haze. Boogie. Life' sounds all the more anthemic.
Mykki Blanco performed at A Night With LuckyMe, The Glue Factory, Glagow, Sun 29 Mar, as part of RBMA UK Tour. Check out more pics below.