Though one of numerous House of Blues around the country, the Chicago venue still manages to maintain an air of independence and uniqueness. In addition to the general standing area directly in front of the stage, and the limited bar stools and tables on the first floor, the three-level setup, equipped with plush private boxes on the second and third floors, as well as a second story bar and seating area for the common folk, offers plenty of options for concert-goers viewing pleasure. The eclectic wall art and sturdy wooden structure give the place a relaxed downhome feeling, even in the middle of downtown Chicago.

Scream & Light Up the SkyMonday night, after a brief set by opener Weatherbox, The Honorary Title takes the stage, opening strongly with the peppy tune Untouched and Intact, giving the audience a powerful taste of what to expect on their upcoming album “Scream and Light Up the Sky, dropping at the end of this month – August 28th to be specific. On stage The Honorary Title evokes apt comparisons to The Cure in the late 80s: from the keyboard and guitar driven beats to Jarrod Gobel’s stirring vocals to the tight black rock pants worn by the entire band, the similarities are hard to miss.

Filling in after Nightmare of You cancelled due to a medical emergency, The Honorary Title is joining Cartel and Weatherbox on a two-month tour across the continent, which is especially coincidental to Gobel considering that he and Nightmare of You lead singer Brandon Reilly are often mistaken for each other. “We’re both from New York. I mean he’s in Manhattan and I’m in Brooklyn, but we’re constantly being told that we look alike. So, what the hell, I guess it just seemed natural for us to tour in their place.” Gobel is still withholding judgment as to the ultimate outcome of the tour, though. “It’s still too early to tell,” he remarks. “I mean, tonight is the first night we’ve met them [Cartel] or seen them play. But we’re definitely excited about the opportunity.”

After the first song, Gobel is quick to address the audience. “We were in Chicago a while ago [on tour in May] and now we’re back and… well, it just feels better this time. I don’t know why.” Gobel thinks for a minute and then gives the most likely reason: “Probably because there’s more girls this time.” And he does mean “girls”. In fact, the crowd is surprisingly undiverse. With few audience members over 21 – denoted clearly by the lack of those coveted, alcohol-friendly wrist bands - this is a night for the teens… the screaming teens. “There are a lot of young girls in the audience,” admits Gobel later. “Hey, they like our music. I’ve definitely got no problem with that.” And who would? In between each song, whether melancholy love song or high-energy rock, the screams emanate from the center of the floor, echoing off the walls. These are the audience members who have no other way of expressing their deep appreciation for the quality and content of the music, except for the occasional shrill shriek.

But young girls aren’t the only fans that The Honorary Title has drawn out on this Monday night. Couples, young hipsters, and even the occasional middle-aged barfly come out to see the band (along with Weatherbox and Cartel) in action. Started in 2003 as a duo between guitarist/vocalist Gobel and bassist/keyboardist Aaron Kamstra, The Honorary Title made the rounds and put out their first album “Anything Else But the Truth” in 2004. Years later, with the additions of guitarist/keyboardist Jonathan Wiley and drummer Adam Boyd and the release of their first major label album, they’re now ready for the next step in their career. Throughout the 45 minute set, each song has its own distinct feel, though the band still manages to maintain a very clear tonal throughline. Young girls and barflys alike respond favorably to the energetic and sometimes despondent tunes emanating from the speakers. The dueling keyboards, hammering drums, and Gobel’s haunting lyrics and vocals have a moving effect on everyone in earshot, and at the House of Blues, that’s everyone.

A few songs in, the band hits their groove, sailing to their finale all too soon. Finishing up their well-received set, the quartet unceremoniously unplugs their equipment and walks offstage, perhaps mentally preparing for their next stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And as Cartel hits the stage a few minutes later, to an intense lightshow and an almost more intense audience response, the 80s vibe is washed away and the high-energy punk band turns the previously loud screams into a deafeningly excited roar of approval. The crowd’s response is clear: this is going to be a good tour.

For more information on The Honorary Title and tour dates, visit their homepage
To purchase their new cd Scream & Light Up the Sky, visit Amazon

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