Inhaler: Dreaming Out Loud

Schubas Tavern - Chicago, IL - November 24, 2021

Nearly an hour into their 55-minute set in Chicago, Inhaler is tearing through their new wave anthem "Cheer Up Baby" and the sold-out Chicago crowd is roaring with approval. I've seen dozens of bands inside these walls and this response was exceptional and extraordinary. While seizing the purity of gleeful youthfulness, the quartet successfully engaged the Chicago crowd and by the end, the audience was serenading the band with their own song where band-and-fan celebrated the communion of the live performance. Few bands in recent years have excited me the way Inhaler has with their lively passion and melodic tunes which they pledge of allegiance to post-punk rock of New Order, the Psychedelic Furs and Gang of Four. In a world dominated by pop bands leaning into rock, it is refreshing to hear and see a band onstage leaning directly into the loud and boisterous elements of rock n' roll while maintaining their pop sensibilities.

Inhaler is a quartet hailing from Dublin, Ireland who released their debut album, It Won't Always Be Like This in July of 2021 and after a quick American tour, they're back playing larger venues in 2022. Consisting of Elijah Hewson on vocals and guitar, guitarist Josh Jenkinson, bassist Robert Keating and drummer Ryan McMahon, Inhaler is cut from the cloth of post-punk and new wave but on the concert stage, they painted the crowd with big bold swashes of rock n' roll. Inhaler rode into Chicago and setup their gear at Schubas and delivered a walloping 55-minute set high on brash energy that only a young band can bring. They have the fight and the desire to not just stand above their peers but to make a sincere connection with their fans. Bands often come and go and never lay it all out on the stage because they're too preoccupied with what others think but Inhaler put it all on the line.

You may know of Inhaler because of lead singer's famous father, but this isn't why I am writing about them; they are a vigorous band, whose music is endearing. As a band, they shine on the concert stage where they reflect the raw aggression of their punk rock godfathers but also the svelte and sheen of their new wave precursors. Inhaler understands that it takes more than one good album to move a crowd; they've heard the album and they show up looking for something more. For a lover of live music, there is nothing more heart wrenching than seeing a performer who has made a great album not deliver. Inhaler went above and beyond and despite only having one proper album under their belts, they delivered a knockout from the stage like seasoned veterans.

The band came on strong out of the gate with "It Won't Always Be Like This" which felt like an old friend as the crowd welcomed them with open arms. The band followed this intense opening with "We Have to Move On" where in the shade of the crowd lights began to shimmer and glisten as the band drove themselves and their instruments firmer & faster sending the crowd into overdrive. In between songs, Hewson commented "we feel much more at home here" in comparison to their stop on Los Angeles a few days earlier. The languid and dream delivery of "Slide Out the Window" with its kaleidoscope guitars segued right into the seductive "Ice Cream Sundae" highlighted by its ringing power chords. The zeal within Schubas was plentiful as the band tore through "When It Breaks" and "In My Sleep" which was highlighted by the double fisted drumming of Ryan McMahon who also shined brightly on "Who's Your Money On?" where bassist Robert Keating led the band through an infectious groove that had the floor shaking. Shades of Depeche Mode could be heard on "My King Will Be Kind" while "Cheer Up Baby" electrified the crowd into a call and response with the band in a moment that was nothing short of glorious. The finale, "My Honest Face" was breathless and led by the siren wail of the electric guitar while the bass grooved & drums locked into a syncopated rhythm as the crowd danced back & forth in pure ecstasy

When the band left the stage, you couldn't help but yearn for more. Inside the confines of a small Chicago club, Inhaler came and brought lift to a city who has slowly began to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic. They injected the crowd with optimism and inspiration while going toe-to-toe with them never letting their guard down. Thousands of acts visit Chicago every year and it's easy to be cynical about younger acts, but Inhaler proved to the crowd that they have a future and one that should be followed closely. The future may be unknown, but at this moment in time, Inhaler's music allows us to dream out loud and their concert help me reestablish my faith in rock n' roll.

Find their upcoming dates here.

Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMusic Network. He can be contacted at thescreendoor AT gmail DOT com and can be followed on Twitter @thescreendoor

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