The Music Man: ‘Gumption’ release show proves Your Friend is more than a local treasure

Justin Curto, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

One of the first things Taryn Miller — who performs as Your Friend — mentioned at the release show for her first album, “Gumption,” was that Tech N9ne was playing a sold-out show at The Granada, just a few blocks away from her show at Liberty Hall. As Miller thanked the audience throughout the night for coming to her show and supporting Your Friend, the audience members showed that their dedication to Your Friend extended beyond missing a Tech N9ne concert.

Miller is originally from Winfield, but moved to Lawrence to perform after earning an associate’s degree in music. In early 2013, Miller released her first extended play as Your Friend, “Jekyll/Hyde.” This piqued the interest of the independent Domino Records, which signed Your Friend and re-released the EP in 2014. The show Thursday, Jan. 28, celebrated the release of “Gumption,” Your Friend’s debut full-length, which dropped the next later.

Major Games, another artist from Lawrence, provided a late opening to the show. The band’s energetic rhythm section and lead vocalist-guitarist Doug McKinney’s use of effects created an artfully dissonant sound, but the performance’s volume kept me from appreciating it at times. Major Games did seem excited for Your Friend’s album release, though, and the Lawrence camaraderie was commendable.

When Your Friend’s live band took the stage and soon Miller followed, the five-piece felt no rush to get started. They tuned instruments and played chords until they were completely ready to play, and their perfectionism payed off in the performance.

When Your Friend began with “Heathering,” it was entrancing. Miller plays her guitar and sings with what seems like such ease, and the rest of her band that night had the talent to keep up. Your Friend managed to mix acoustic, alternative and electronic sounds throughout the night, creating a perfectly transcendent form of live music whether Miller was on electric guitar, synthesizer or just vocals.

The release show obviously marked the first time I had heard many of the tracks off “Gumption,” save “Heathering” and “Come Back For It.” I enjoyed Your Friend’s performances of “Nothing Moved” and the title track enough to buy a slightly advanced copy of “Gumption” in the middle of the set, which was well worth it. Though nothing compares to hearing the songs performed live, Your Friend’s recording is nearly impeccable as well, especially for a debut album.

And there’s a reason the recordings don’t compare to Your Friend’s music live. Miller’s show at Liberty Hall provided ample time for interludes and drawn out instrumentals to segue from one song to the next. Not only that, but the band’s harmonies with Miller filled the venue unlike I’ve heard before. Just being in the same room as Your Friend’s ambience is powerful, especially when you’re accompanied by hundreds of other engaged fans.

To end Your Friend’s set, Miller played two of her most contrasting pieces. The first, “Come Back From It,” showcases a heavier sound than on any other Your Friend song, and sounded exponentially stronger live. “Who Will I Be In the Morning” showed a different kind of strength, as one of Miller’s most stripped down songs and the closer to “Gumption.” When Your Friend left the stage, Miller kept part of the song on loop, which ended the main set gracefully.

After a few minutes, Miller returned solo for an encore. Accompanied only by a guitar, she played a beautiful rendition of “Pallet,” a song off “Jekyll/Hyde” she said she performed at her first show. Then, the live band rejoined Miller on stage for Your Friend’s most popular song, “Tame One.” Though it started slower, Your Friend turned it into a remarkable and rousing performance, which I can truly say was unlike any song I’ve ever seen or heard live before.

A day after the show, I can’t stop talking about how amazing it was to see Your Friend live. As Miller prepares to go on tour from early March to mid-April, I can only hope thousands of other concertgoers walk away from Your Friend’s performances the same way — because, if this show has proven anything, it’s that Your Friend is ready for the national stage.

Senior Justin Curto is an avid music lover whose tastes range from alternative rock to dance pop. He enjoys supporting the Kansas City music scene by listening longer to 96.5 The Buzz, rocking out to local music and seeing artists live at his favorite venues in the area.

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