A loud goodbye

Off the sidewalk of Stockton Boulevard, a doorway gives way to a charming, wood-paneled antechamber. A second set of doors at the far wall leads to a deafening engine room. Screamingly loud, dark and hazy, it’s not a place to stay without hearing protection, but the crew keeps at it, fueling the fire, making the metal sounds that bounce off walls and pound through skulls.

OSHA would not recommend a prolonged visit here. A few seconds are enough to leave eardrums convulsing.

Stepping back through the set of doors, things are bizarrely conversational, comparatively quiet once the door swings shut. Beers and sodas get tossed back, voices are seldom raised over casual conversation. An episode of Seinfeld plays silently on a TV screen with closed captioning on.

Then the noise next door stops. Applause breaks through the unfamiliar quiet, and people begin filtering in. Amps and guitars in cases get packed out of the engine room, through the front door onto the sidewalk and out of sight.

So it’s not your typical engine room; it’s more of a room with a stage for musicians to perform music at Cafe Colonial. Ready for the big reveal? The “engine room” was really a metaphor the whole time.

To keep the metaphor going: The whole crew knows the ship is going down, and it’s coming soon. Tonight, though, they’re the harbingers of local music at the second day of 916 Fest. All told, about 20 bands came out to perform, many of them regular acts and visitors to one of the few remaining all-ages venues in town. It’s one of the last hurrahs at the Colonial Complex (comprised of the Cafe and the Colony next door) before it closes after November 17.

For now, there’s a lot of boots on feet. There’s a lot of leather on people. A lot of ink on skin and shirt sleeves left at home where they belong. Someone drops the phrase “mohawks on fleek,” which is hugely accurate.

To reiterate—it’s really loud when the music’s going.

“That’s the point,” my friend says, a little surprised. He plays with Anime Aliens, and he’s right. Everyone knows it’s supposed to be loud. People leave their tables; the next act is a noise battle set between two bands, No More and Killer Couture. There’s a lot of drums and guttural guitar, and also more harmonica than a human can survive.

It’s not a huge crowd, but more people filter through as the night progresses. There was a bigger crowd Friday, packed full of kids. A red ketchup bottle migrating between plates of food is nearly empty. It might last as long as the venue does, or it may need to be refilled one last time.

The Colonial Complex is on its last legs. There’s Danny Reynoso’s Fuck Cancer show and one more two-day festival, Colonial Fest 4, before the venue shuts its doors for good. After that, Sacramento is going to be one hell of a lot quieter.