Friday, October 2, 2009
My introduction to Chapel Hill alt rock virtuosos The Honored Guests was made in April 2007 just a few days before the closed doors of Kings Barcade made way for a monolith parking garage across the street from the Raleigh Convention Center. With a small crowd of friends gathered outside an early to finish The Decemberists show at Meymandi concert hall up the street, we discussed the merits of keeping the night alive and a lone suggestion from somewhere amid the chuckles and smiles of the group made perfect sense, "I think Kings is still open, we could go see who is playing." With the realization that it was likely our last chance to lurk in shadows of Kings, away we marched and the night was to live on a few more hours.
Kings was much like we knew it, upon walking in we were greeted with an expansive bar and the sound of loud pounding rock coming from the stage room that is held around the corner and just out of sight while ordering up a beer. Each of us served, we strolled into the music and sipped away while enjoying a mélange of saying good bye to Kings and saying hello to The Honored Guests who were on stage and brining it.
Their crowd of seventy-five or so was strong for a Tuesday night in the concrete surroundings of down town Raleigh and they were in to the music, heads bobbing and lips singing. Along with the solid energy coming from the stage it was easy to also get in to it and so we did. The night ended with us buying a few of their CDs at the merch stand and having a few conversations about their music and how sad we all were to see the outtro of Kings. A few months passed before I saw them play again, this time at The Cat's Cradle in Carrboro opening for The Rosebuds and this time playing for over a thousand. I left that show just as pumped about their music but what I didn't realize was that this would be one of their last shows before an expansive hiatus.
a year went by and oblivion loomed. I saw lead singer Russell Baggett out in chapel hill later that year and we chatted briefly and from it I gathered that they were figuring things out and the future of the band was pretty much unknown. I also left with the hint that they were in the studio recording something. What they were in the studio for turned out to be a little gem called "Talk Talk Talk" which would ultimately talk them back to the stage.
I checked in once and a while for signs of new stuff. Their myspace, facespace, blogspace, it was all pretty quiet until later that summer sure enough, a new track went up called "Talk Talk Talk". It was smooth and hooky and had the kind of airy vocals and prominent guitar work that Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland could eat their hearts out over. I played it over and over and came to realize it was their best work. I wasn't the only one to take notice either, Pox World Empire grabbed it for their opening position on Compilation Volume 3, Songs from North Carolina, a masterful collection of new music from the local scene which was released earlier this year and is available around town on indie record store shelves right now. From this the buzz on their myspace comments section picked up and fans called out. The Daily Tarheel blogged about the compilation and focused on their track. It seemed oblivion would have to wait…The Honored Guests were invited back.
Consistency is a luxury that the local music goers have learned to live without. So much changes in our favorite bands, venues, and routines that it's easier to live in the moment than it is to look to the future. With a sigh we let broken up bands slip out of our sights and move on to the next obsession. It's an unintended treat then, when something we had nearly given up for lost comes back. Last Thursday night at The Pinhook we got something back. Along side Aminal and the touring Low Red Land, The Honored Guests once again took the stage and delighted a crowd that was completely in to it with bobbing heads and signing lips. "Talk Talk Talk" sounded even better live than on the CD player and was a perfect ode for a welcome back celebration. With the momentum of a great new song, the support of their old fans, and another show already on the calendar for November, I'm looking forward to keeping it. --Carrboro Ninja
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More images from last Thursday
at 6:41 PM