A Surprise Ending in Dylan Gardner’s Return to the Valley
By Caitlynn McDaniel
As much as we all love the classic pop artists that blast through our radios on a daily basis,
sometimes those local artists you discover by accident can prove to be the real hidden gems. I
discovered Dylan Gardner in 2015 when he came to my high school to perform his songs off of
his first album Adventures in Real Time. Since then, I have followed his music and continue to
go out to his shows whenever I can. From playing small high school concerts in Arizona,
Gardner has come a long way.
He recently came to the Valley Bar in Downtown Phoenix as the third leg of his small release
tour for his second album. The first two shows took place in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Seeing
as Gardner used to live in Arizona, it seemed fitting that he ended the trip here in the valley.
His new album, Almost Real, was released on April 6th and has been trending on Apple Music
In the days after its release. Gardner shared two singles, “Hit Me With the Lights Out” and “Sign
Language,” months before the album launch. A third single, “I Want it Like That,” was released just days before the full album was shared.
On Monday night, a crowd of anxious music lovers piled into the Valley Bar eager to hear the
newly released songs live. The night began with an upbeat performance by the opening act, Just Seconds a Part, a trio of 18-year-old triplets. The audience bopped to the beat of their songs and even sang along to some of their covers.
With their voices prepped and their dance moves in full swing, it was time for the main act to
take the stage. Dylan Gardner came out accompanied by his band, consisting of his brother
Mark on the drums and Michael Ramhill on base. He rounded the corner and came onto the
stage full of energy and started the show with a new hit song, “I Want It Like That.”
Throughout the show he mixed in some new and some old and thrived off the emotion from
the crowd. You could tell that having an audience scream lyrics back at him really brought a big
smile to his face. And just to show his fans how much they mean to him, Gardner brought two fans on stage. During a new upbeat twist on a break-up ballad, known as “Breakup Symphony,” Dylan invited a recently single fan to come up and sing the last chorus of the song with him. The
audience went crazy over her confidence and killer dance moves. Then towards the end of the
show, a promposal arose. The fan asked Gardner if he would ask her to prom. Of course he said yes and the whole thing was filmed with mood music set by the rest of the band. It is safe to say her night was made.
Apart from the audience interactions and heartfelt moments, Gardner brought a rad show. He
sang his heart out, performed new music, and rocked so hard he nearly hit the mic stand while
jumping off of the drum set straight into a guitar solo. He also slowed it down during his
performance of “The Way It Goes,” a song written about Gardner’s family and childhood. The
singer took a break from his guitar and instead opted for a piano where he sang solo while his
band took a break. The lyrics of the song brought up his musical father who brought him
inspiration, his caring and supportive mother, and his destiny with music. Dylan Gardner was
named after Bob Dylan, and as he states in his song, it really is no surprise he fell so in love with instruments and vocals.
He ended his scheduled set with a classic, “Let’s Get Started,” which caused the audience to
burst into song and sing the night out with a bang. However, no one could get enough and he
was asked to come back up on stage for a much demanded encore.
Dylan’s album Almost Real is available on iTunes for download, and available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. Go check him out! We hope to have him home in the valley very soon.