The doctor prescribed Inhaler
Willoughby Thom | Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Three things you need at a concert: a good concert buddy, an open mind and an Inhaler.
On Sunday, Dublin-based band, Inhaler, graced the stage at the Subterranean in North Chicago.
The Subterranean, sandwiched between a dental clinic and cafe on North Avenue, looked nothing more than a run-down club with a haphazard marquee, but its charm was on the inside.
After receiving big black Sharpie “X”s on our hands and having our names checked off the list, we were motioned upstairs. On the second floor was a long room with a bar at one end and a stage at the other. Above us, we could see a rectangular balcony that looked over the second story. On the third floor, or up on the hollow, four-sided balcony, was another bar and a merchandise stand consisting of t-shirts, CDs and a homemade sign.
We entered the venue at 7:30 p.m., filled with anticipation and ready for our dose of the Dublin quartet.
Inhaler’s sound — curated by members Elijah Hewson, Robert Keating, Ryan McMahon and John Jenkinson — resembles that of “early” U2 and The Killers. Chances are, if you are familiar with Inhaler, it’s either because of Elijah Hewson’s father, Bono (known for his work as frontman of U2), or because you happened to see them in a local club in Ireland while studying abroad. However you discovered the band, though, its Edge-like, minimalistic guitar riffs, subtle synths and poetic lyrics provide a breath of fresh air.
Looking around, I detected a definite contingent of U2 fans, but what I found interesting was the evident generational gap dividing the crowd. It was a Generation X population juxtaposed with (and sprinkled among) their millennial and Generation Z ‘descendants.’
Inhaler graced the stage at 8:30 p.m., opening with their single “It Won’t Always Be Like This.” They continued the show with a few unrecorded originals, as well as renditions of songs “My Honest Face” and “Ice Cream Sundae.” The band sounded tight and composed; they were bursting energy. People knew the words to their released singles, and there many members of the audience dancing along. This was great to see considering Inhaler was just an opener.
Hewson was seen constantly scanning and engaging with the crowd — ‘like father like son,’ I suppose — thereby making the performance feel personal and intimate. The Bassist, Keating, and guitarist, Jenkinson, had very neutral energies on stage. While they may even have been a bit too subdued (to the effect that my eyes were drawn primarily to Hewson), this didn’t take away from their overall performances.
Inhaler’s 30-minute set was dynamic and exceeded my expectations. Their songs are about teenage love and life in today’s world, set to steady beats and intricate guitar riffs. This is the kind of music the world craves: Inhaler is preserving New Wave while pushing modern rock forward.
The cure to your mainstream-music induced asthma: Inhaler