Wild bears attack band

Magic is in the details—like watching hundreds of bats lift off the Yolo Causeway and fly into the sunset on an otherwise ordinary drive to Davis. Or scoring the last empty table on the crowded patio at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen and taming the Saturday evening heat with $5 whiskey gingers. Or pretending wild bears are attacking your band.

Skip Allums, best known locally for his former indie-pop outfit Estereo, explained the challenge of his new role as bassist and blogger for San Francisco chanteuse Maggie Morris—who opened Saturday night’s show. “What else could we say?” Allums said of the band’s tour blog, online at http://photographthatcity.wordpress.com. “We slept ’til noon, played a show, slept ’til noon again?”

To entertain fans during the band’s Northwest tour, Allums invented a battle with a pack of menacing bears. The mythical beasts have tracked the band since Emeryville, where drummer Jon Lady lost an arm. (It was reattached for the Davis gig.) The bears stole sleeping bags, inspired high-speed chases and even shared the bill at the Healthy Times Fun Club in Seattle.

“The Bears opened the show, and were total dicks,” Allums wrote on August 8. “They took forever to sound check and they broke some of the mic stands. Maggie stole a jar of honey from their merch table though. Maggie Morris: 2, Bears: 2.”

Fortunately, the furry tour wreckers missed last Saturday’s triple bill, engineered by Cool as Folk’s Michael Leahy, and featuring North Bay folk-pop songwriter Petracovich and Davis locals Boxes.

Relieved of the stress of wildlife management, Morris kicked off her shoes and played a musical romp through the highs and lows of human relations. The band buoyed emotional lyrics with light melodies punctuated by melodica and tambourine. (The latter briefly wound up in the capable hands of Sacramento’s “good girl blues” artist Julie Meyers.)

Then a very pregnant Jessica Peters, the driving energy behind Petracovich, took over the patio’s makeshift stage like M.I.A. on Grammy night. That is, if M.I.A. played gorgeously layered keyboard compositions and the occasional banjo. When Peters closed the show with “Heaven Help the Day,” the boisterous first track on her new CD, Crepusculo, dancing rattled the floorboards. A crowd gathered on the sidewalk, and even the underage kids crowded around the fish ’n’ chips place next door reveled like their tipsy older brethren.

The audience was still growing when Boxes began their self-titled “box set” sometime after midnight. The trio’s rough-around-the-edges pop, accompanied by a surprising amount of instrument swapping between bandmates, kept the patio thumping until Sunday morning.

We might not see Petracovich again until after the baby’s born, but Maggie Morris makes a Sacramento stop at The Hub on August 24. Allums’ new project, the Shants, opens the show. Just keep an eye peeled for those pesky bears.