All photos by Nikki Benson. See full photo set here.
Olympia-based Lake have recently been touted as bringing the seventies soft-rock revival to the K Records contingent. Unfortunately for their show at the Tractor Tavern this last Sunday night, they brought the rock a little too soft. Prior to their show, Lake had a lot going for them in my opinion: Their latest release Giving & Receiving is full of precise instrumentation that elevates conventional pop songs into a higher level of sophistication; their video for “Within/Without” has just the right amount of style without making it look like an advertisement from Urban Outfitters; they’ve recorded and played with some of the area’s most sought-after collaborators. This was Lake’s time to shine.
Lake’s show at the Tractor Tavern was the last one in a lengthy tour. As such, I was expecting a tight band that was grasping at the last moments of performing together before traveling back home to resume “normal” life. Instead, Lake came onstage to a quickly thinning crowd. Those that stayed were obviously loyal fans; they danced wildly when Lake played their latest single “Within/Without.” Lake seemed happy to be on stage, but they were out of energy. Whispering vocals that on record are very prominent combined with the band’s relaxed playing to make the performance seem flat. This created moments that should have popped but instead were deflating. Lake did an excellent job of switching pace from song to song, even switching which instruments they all played. Ultimately Lake have produced a beautiful new record but delivered it in a less than enjoyable way.
Playing right before Lake was the much lauded Portland buskers AgesandAges. Having seen super energetic live videos and reviews from their shows this tour, I was expecting something special. AgesandAges played with enthusiasm and enough energy to light up the Puget Sound. Consisting of seven members, four of which play instruments, they created a wall of vocals. They married their impressive arrangements with intricate drum and hand clap interplay. A rhythmic, vocal-driven group playing songs for the everyman, AgesandAges were definitely the highlight of the evening. Judging from the audience turnout, it seemed the buzz on AgesandAges preceded them. The Tractor Tavern was full during their set, with people dancing, clapping, and smiling throughout.
Another bright spot was Seattle’s own Cataldo. Armed with plenty of country-folk stompers and witty lyrics, Cataldo took the audience well beyond their bearded woodsman appearance into a very enjoyable high energy set.