THE ROCKFORD FILES: Review of the Visiting Nurses and LAKE show at Northern

Speeding through bat country to be blown away in a 1968 garage

By Rockford Rowley on February 27, 2013

Had I known what I was going to witness Sunday night at The Northern, I would have gone to much greater lengths to combat the obstacles that nearly cost me my attendance. A last minute decision to bring a friend with me to the Olympia all-ages venue found me sitting in a downtown Tacoma living room 20 minutes before the show was scheduled to start. This turned my plans of a relaxing drive to Olympia with plenty of time into a Gonzo journalism style rampage down the I-5 corridor with my friend yelling iPhone directions over my Venus In Chains EP on repeat. 

"We can't stop here. This is bat country."

But when I got there - quite literally 30 seconds before Visiting Nurses began the first song of their set - I found not the death of the American Dream but a time capsule of a 1968 garage. 

The only way I can really describe Visiting Nurses is bluesy, Led Zeppelin-esque improvisation interrupted by catchy, power-pop style songs. Its incredible sound paired with unique style made for that mid-song, raised-brow eye contact with my friend that simply meant, "Damn, are you hearing this?" And as an avid gear-junkie - and currently refraining from going into great detail about the band's instruments - I couldn't help but notice its incredible guitars and amps, but more importantly its absolutely stunning tone. 

At the conclusion of Visiting Nurses, the next band scheduled to play was Olympia's own LAKE. Time between the two bands was spent discussing how thankful we were our attire met Olympia standards, and that we had so far gone undetected as virgins to Northern.  

Having seen the video for LAKE's song "Within/Without" off its album Giving & Receiving, I had a vague idea of what to expect. But no video could have prepared me for the three-part harmonies, bass chords and keyboards that LAKE delivered Sunday night. 

Having formed in Olympia in 2006, LAKE has released a number of full-length albums, including Lake, Cassette, Oh, The Places We'll Go, Let's Build A Roof, and Giving & Receiving. Its first tour was back in fall of 2006 opening for Adrian Orange. LAKE went on to tour Europe behind its album Oh, The Places We'll Go, and are now touring with R. Stevie Moore, son of Elvis session player Bob Moore. 

Every aspect of LAKE conveys a since of genuineness. Its soft-spoken and gentle nature carries into their music, making for a sound that leaves no option for the listener but to love it dearly. Equal musical input from all members and a strong since of friendship among the band also adds to LAKE's group dynamic. 

The band is currently continuing its tour with R. Stevie Moore that will put them as far away as San Diego on March 2. While at Northern I managed to score a cassette of the band's music, entitled Circular Doorway that includes digitally unreleased music and hand-drawn linear art. But for those who prefer not to dust of their old tape player, all of LAKE's full-length albums can be purchased through iTunes. 

Though its current tour has left the South Sound in the rearview mirror, LAKE will surely be back soon, by which time my Circular Doorway cassette will surely be disintegrated from hours after hours of playing.