The Café Colonial is painted in stark black and white, adorned by event posters, photos from local artists, pages from a punk coloring book completed by various visitors, and reflected forever by the mirrors at the bar. This weekend it was host to the Bat Guano Festival, a two-day punk extravaganza. The Café was lively and full of musicians and fans mixing at the bar and in the audience, wearing an almost overwhelming number of Misfits and The Ramones T-shirts. The second day saw a seven-band roster and a birthday bash for Ken Doose who hosted the festival. Here is a run down of the bands who played.
Shoujo Kitten– a young, rather cutesy punk band led by a tiny purple haired singer who played keytar and sang like a Valley girl. They were by far the shiniest band as all the string instruments were sparkly or reflective somehow. They played songs that seemed to somewhat anime themed, including a number about turning into a cat and another one about a little robot girl.
Pug Skullz– a harder, louder, grungier band led by two more mature rockers on guitar and bass respectively. Pug Skullz was rounded out by a younger drummer, who lost his shirt by the second song. The bassist had flying fingers, interesting take on a Mohawk, and enough tattoos to make up for the fact the rest of the band had none. The guitarist strummed so quickly his hands blurred and the colored lights caught and shivered in the long ends of his strings. They tackled issues like truth and religion with bare-boned barked out lyrics and relentless instrumentation.
Cadaver Dogs– recommended and danced to by Vanessa, a bartender at the Colonial. This band was hands down the best showmen of the line-up. The duo from Columbus, Ohio, made up of a drummer who was pretty in an almost feminine way, and a singer with a shaggy walrus mustache. The drummer spent most of the set in an ecstatic trance, drooling beer and spewing the foam into the air. The moment the singer set foot on the felt of the stage, he had the charisma of a back alley Satanic preacher, making love to the mike with burning eyes. Both were constantly in motion, dancing, running around, jumping, sticking drumsticks in strange places, and pushing their way into the audience. They were rhythmic and unlike many of the other bands, they had dips and changes in volume. “It’s called suspense, motherfucker,” said the singer, at one point when the instrumentation dipped down to just a pulsing bass line, played from a loop.
Sleep No More– a five guy band led by a singer in a bright yellow baseball cap who looked like he had skateboarded over from the nearest boardwalk. They played a short, frenetic set and joked about Fresno calling it “the end of the world”.
Julie the Bruce– a one-woman accordion act, Julie was a nice change up from the loudness of the other bands. Her rough brassy voice filled the room and accompanied the gypsy sound of the accordion perfectly. Standing on the felt laid out to delineate the stage, she managed to distract from the band setting up behind her, except when they were too loud, then she went up to the offending guys and played her accordion at them until they scampered out the back door. She played songs about fortunetellers, drinking, and zombies.
Support the Rabid– A quartet of guys who started their set with a song that sounded like My Chemical Romance’s ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You,’ but wasn’t. Their guitarist had some pretty cool red strings and the singer apparently had a bad breakup because their second song was about ‘drinking vodka and dreaming about his ex being killed by a murderer’.
The Yoo Hoos– One of the most anticipated bands of the evening, this trio hailed from Germany but considered Sacramento to be their home and were quite sentimental about being back again. They were poppy, catchy and energetic. The singer did a lot of jumping around, and sang in gently accented English.
Charles Albright– this trio rounded out the night with a set that caused a brief mosh pit made up of two guys in Hawaiian shirts and five panel hats who left half way through, fingers in their ears. The band wasn’t bad, just very loud. And to the delight of all the rock geeks in the Colonial, their guitarist did a perfect rendition of Van Halen’s ‘Eruption,’ making both the club’s owner and our photographer very happy.
The festival was an intimate and high-energy experience. If you love punk and want to be at a show where you can buy a drink for the band that just played, Bat Guano Festival at the Café Colonial is the place to be.