By: Josephine Best

The line between Inhaler fans and St. Patrick’s Day revelers blended when the queue outside House of Blues ran the corner of Lansdowne St. and Brookline Ave. Plastered bar crawlers sheltered by plastic shamrocks trudged through the mobbed street, confused at the sight of the heavily lined sidewalk. 


I was confused too. 


It was 4:30 p.m., two and a half hours before doors opened at House of Blues, and the line for the venue had already coated the block and turned the corner. The restless mass of people were gathered for Inhaler’s second US headline tour in Boston. The Dublin indie pop-rock band of 20-something-year-olds with two albums to their name had managed to overwhelm the consistently cramped Fenway area.


Young girls in cowboy hats, mothers in tweed jackets, and silver foxes; the eclectic crowd waited in unison as the line quickly densified, and 7 p.m. loomed. 


The mob pushed in when doors opened, and people fled to the pit, waiting anxiously for the opener, Sun Room, to begin.


The San Diego band toured with Inhaler last year and expressed their love and gratitude before opening a set I can only describe as the love child of Cream, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and The Beachboys if it had a skateboard and discord account. The gritty sound of a 60s microphone mixed with vocal harmonizing and lyrics about Southern California granted a pleasant reaction from the congregation. Around 40% of the crowd knew the lyrics to their songs. And there were, of course, the screams of “YOU’RE SO HOT” and “IT’S JOHN B.” directed at the beach blonde frontman. 


Inhaler made for a more cinematic entrance. The lights turned blue, and in the dark room, ethereal piano music reverberated. Immediately phones thrust into the air, ready to capture the band’s arrival.


Inhaler’s choice of music did not work to subdue the congregation. When the tip of frontman Eli Hewson’s leather boot was spotted, shrieks like a dagger to the ear scorched the venue. A decibel you didn’t think could be topped until you heard the reaction to the reverb of Josh Jenkinson’s guitar beginning These Are The Days — the first single off their latest album.


After the wails came the mushing, bodies pushed against bodies begging to be closer to the stage. Personal space depleted, and moshing became nearly impossible without room to move. Most of the crowd settled on a calm jumping rhythm. However, the mom beside me scolded me for bumping into her too much.


At a concert.


In the pit. 


It seemed that she wasn’t the only one confused by the movement in the crowd. Inhaler’s setlist danced between their high-tempo and heavy bass tracks like When It Breaks and their soft forlorn breakup songs like If You’re Gonna Break My Heart, which left the crowd in a daze. It was only the easy voice of Hewson that pulled them out of their confusion. In between songs, with his accent barely detectable, he mumbled to the crowd the usual concert script of things like “How are we doing, Boston?” 


The rest of the band was left unheard except for their backing vocals, leaving the spotlight on Hewson, an attention he seemed to revel in. Though his posture was often stiff, his eyes were not. Flashes of eye contact and quick cheeky grins to the crowd resulted in roars from the recipients. 


The loudest howl of the night was not a consequence of coveted glances, but a collective response to My King Will Be Kind. As the chorus loomed, phones pierced the air to catch the soundbite of “I F—ING HATE THAT B—-.” There was not a bashful voice in the venue. A unified shot of sound from the congregation demonstrated the spirit of feminism leaving the bodies of the primarily female mob to berate a b—- we didn’t even know. 


The second ear-splitting decibel of the night occurred during the only performative moment elicited from Hewson. Fans had thrown about four cowboy hats on the stage. Why everyone was wearing these for an Irish pop-rock band, I still don’t know, but it seemed to please Hewson enough for him to crouch down and pick up the LED hat and place it on his head, revealing the bold letters which read “KISS ME I’M IRISH.” He then tossed the headpiece to the back of the stage and returned to the mic to croon the bridge of Dublin in Ecstacy. 


A humorous scene to behold before exiting the venue to find the street still filled with green-clad bar crawlers desperate for a taste of Ireland on St. Patrick’s weekend; little did they know what they were craving had been inside House of Blues all night.