Breathe Owl Breathe serenades the Ore Dock


AnnMarie Kent

It may not take a lot to make a brewery full of people dance, but it takes a great musical influence to bring people to the front of the room and swing their hips the way they did for Breathe Owl Breathe. The trio from East Jordan, Michigan played in the upper room of the Ore Dock Brewing Company on Thursday, Feb. 2. Local musician Michael Waite opened for the band as people began to trickle in. The show was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. but for unknown reasons Waite didn’t take the stage until 8 p.m.

Waite stood alone on the stage with his guitar as he bellowed out  song after soulful song. Through the whole acoustic indie set, Waite took a small, humble bow after each song and thanked his audience. Waite had a warm, inviting vibe to his music. It could make anyone sway in their seat and tap along to his ringing guitar.

His original pieces were unique and the middle-aged singer performed a few pieces from classic singer-songwriters. It was the perfect opening to the weirdness that was to come.

Weirdness is the trademark of Breathe Owl Breathe. Their eccentric nature and indie folk/rock sound is a magnet for the hippie counterculture in Marquette. When the two men of Breathe Owl Breathe, Micah Middaugh and Trevor Hobbs, took the stage, a whole new kind of people appeared around them.

They started simple; Middaugh on the guitar and vocals and Hobbs playing the drums. The biggest thing missing from their set was Andrea Moreno-Beals, the female vocalist and cellist who completes the trio. Had I never seen them live before I wouldn’t have noticed her absence, but I found the lack of Moreno-Beals’s soft soprano voice and high, melodic whistling blatantly obvious.

Not far into the set Middaugh’s soft sways with the music turned into whole body movements. During the song “Swimming” his hands went above his head and he wiggled his body down in a swimming motion and later he did the sprinkler motion with his arms.

A wide range of instruments made an appearance. Hobbs sat in the drum corner playing his drums as well as a keyboard, tambourine, finger cymbals and even maracas as drum sticks. Middaugh stuck to his guitar for the most part, but eventually broke out a small plastic guitar that looked like a toy, a kalimba and a wooden flute.

A wool blanket was draped over the bass drum to damp the sound, but mixed with dark pallet wood behind them it gave the sense of a jam session in a cabin deep in the woods.

If there is one fault in the venue it’s the lack of intimacy. While the low ceilings and seating close to the stage seem intimate, the wide area with nooks and crannies allow for many conversations to happen around. While everyone near the stage was captivated by the music, conversations permeated the magical feeling and took away from the closeness that could have been felt.

Breathe Owl Breathe does an incredible job of making everyone feel comfortable; with the aid of Reclamation IPA on tap, everyone in the brewery was feeling the music. In the small area between seats and the stage people danced themselves into a sweat and smiled to the warm feeling of the music.