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Emily Kinney, Dylan Gardner; May 31st, 2015

This Is War Tour
May 31st, 2015
Record Bar
Kansas City, Missouri
Emily Kinney, Dylan Gardner

After two full days of rock and metal surrounded by tens of thousands of people for the Iowa and Missouri Rockfests, I was looking forward to the stripped down, intimate performances of the This Is War Tour.
Kansas City’s Record Bar is an amazing venue. It’s large enough to hold a few hundred fans, but small enough to give those fans the chance to experience an up-close and personal concert.
Fans started lining up hours before the venue’s 6 o’clock doors, many hoping for the chance to meet the band members before the show. People exchanged stories about their love for Kinney’s Beth Greene on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Others spoke about how wonderful it was that Kinney was on her first cross country tour.
19 year old Dylan Gardner opened tonight’s show. Gardner’s unique brand of indie rockabilly served as the perfect first course to tonight’s event. It’s wonderful to see musicians on stage playing the music they love and actually having a great time on stage. As receptive as the crowd was to Gardner’s original music, it was when he told the crowd that the band had debated about adding a cover to their set this tour, that really peaked our interest. As the guys played their cover Arctic Monkey’s Do I Wanna Know, the fans energy was amped a few levels.
While only a few of the people attending tonight’s show sung along with Gardner’s original music, playing the popular Arctic Monkey’s track gave us all the chance to unify into one voice during his set.
After a quick set change, Emily Kinney and her band made their way through the crowd, pausing for high fives and fist bumps, before stepping onto the stage. Kinney’s touring guitarist, Adam Tressler, was back in Ohio, meaning Dylan Gardner would be taking the stage again during Kinney’s set.
Where Jonathan is about a boy she loved, Molly is about a girl she hates. While Kinney’s vocals are honey sweet, the lyrical content of tracks like Molly, Take Home Julie and This Is War are dripping with venom. This young Nebraskan girl uses her own personal experiences to write her music, and the depth of emotions that she puts into each song is clear.
I had the chance to talk to a few dozen people before and after Kinney’s set about how they were introduced to her music. All but one, who’d apparently gone to high school with Kinney, became a fan of Kinney because of The Walking Dead. Thinking about it, having a role on AMC’s highest rated show was the perfect springboard for Kinney’s music career. Kinney herself even told the crowd, “I loved playing Beth on The Walking Dead because we have music in common. She got to sing a few times, and it was really fun.” That was the perfect introduction for her covers of Waxahatchee’s Be Good during Season 4’s 13th episode, and Tom Waits’ Hold on, which Kinney’s Beth Greene sand during the show’s 3rd season.
The highlight of the set though was her a cappella performance of Dad Says. “I love this next song,” Kinney told the crowd as guitarist Dylan Gardner and bass player Hayley Batt exited the stage. “When I’d originally recorded this song, I added all these drums and guitars to it, and I realized I didn’t like it anymore. So I’m going to sing it as I’d meant it to be.” There Kinney stood on stage, in front of a room full of people, and sang a song about giving up on your dreams to such a level that it tugged on each and every person’s heart strings. Rarely does an artist command an audience at such a level that no one single person in Record Bar made a sound.
Kinney’s set was the perfect mixture of tracks from her Expired Love release, two covers from her time on The Walking Dead, and select tracks from her upcoming album This Is War. Finally having the opportunity to see Kinney perform live was such a surreal experience. I admit that I’m one of those people whom probably wouldn’t have known about this amazing musician if it wasn’t for The Walking Dead, but after selling out of both her Blue Toothbrush EP and Expired Love LP, there was very little doubt that her fan base grew again after tonight’s show.

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