Before the show started, I heard Breathe Owl Breathe described by someone as, “the cutest band ever.” This was not an overstatement. The trio played a delightful set of quirky songs about everything from parrots on a tropical shower curtain, to a mustache who wants to do his own stunts. Micah Middaugh, the band’s guitarist (along with other plastic instruments) and Andrea Moreno (cello, drums, banjo) brought several props along, including a wolf hat for their song, “Where Wolf”. They brought a lot of energy to the stage and maneuvered their many instruments with grace. At the end of “Swimming”, Micah did a cannon ball off of the stage. As I was watching them, I couldn’t help but think of a children’s book. Sure enough, the band is working on a children’s book complete with a 7″. They have a really cool donation program set up to help fund the production of this unique children’s book (check it out here).
I have been listening to Frontier Ruckus since 2008 when 90FM, the college radio station in my hometown of Stevens Point, played “Mount Marcy” off of their album, The Orion Songbook. I went right out and bought their album and have been following this band ever since. Their last show in Madison in fall of 2009 at the Terrace was, for whatever reason, poorly attended. Comparatively, the High Noon was packed this time around on a cool autumn weeknight. They played a mixture of songs throughout the show from Orion Songbook, off of their album released this summer, Deadmalls and Nightfalls, and some new tracks. Frontier Ruckus is a band true to their Northern Lower Michigan roots, and apparently so was most of the crowd. Matt Milia began the show by asking, “Anyone from Michigan?…That’s what I thought,”to applause and hoots. They have a five person ensemble with drums, bass, banjo, acoustic guitar, and someone on the saw, trumpet, alto-horn and melodica. Their songs are often more than five minutes long, filled with crescendos, instrument change, and many a banjo solo. Milia’s distinctive, at times haunting, voice captivated me as he went from their darker songs, such as Animals Need Animals to the poppy, Dark Autumn Hour, which the band played in a minimalistic style close to the audience. Milia asked the crowd to join in on the “Oos”, and was surprised that the front row (i.e. us and our friends) already knew the part quite well. Check out the video below: