Everett's Local Music Past Lives On At Black Lab Gallery
Sandwiched between, well, two sandwich shops (the always-bland Subway and EVVY Award winners Yummy Banh Mi) on Hewitt and Wetmore sits Black Lab Gallery.
You may have seen its facade lit up at night with neon signs, or on the weekends, hoards of local showgoers with drinks in hand mulling outside between sets.
Opening in 2016, Black Lab Gallery quickly became the spot for local visual artists to sell their works. Owner Isabella Valencia jump-started the Everett Art Walk the same year, bringing more attention to the gallery and local musicians soon followed.
All of a sudden, Black Lab found itself as a formidable venue in downtown.
Soon it wasn’t just Everett acts, but Seattle bands and national touring acts as word got out about the gallery’s all-ages stance and the number of people coming out for shows. Everett Music Initiative called on Black Lab Gallery to be a part of Fisherman’s Village Music Festival, and the gallery has been on the short-list of venues ever since.
At some of the more rowdy shows, art was damaged. The small PA system was overtaxed, and the sound wasn’t as crisp. At a recent Fuzz Mutt show, an amplifier blew up and filled the gallery with the smoke and the smell of burning plastic and vacuum tubes.
Bands started to email Black Lab more frequently with booking dates and asking for recommendations for local acts to play with. Crowds coming to the gallery were getting larger. Some acts took up months-long residencies.
Things had to change for Black Lab to sustain all of the newfound success as a music venue.
“I don't think we ever planned for being a ‘music venue’ … but the music venue came out of necessity for people to have a space,” Nicole Valencia, Isabella’s daughter, said.
Everett Music Initiative worked out a deal for Black Lab to purchase the old Cannery PA system. Nicole started handling booking.
“They want this venue to succeed,” Isabella said about Everett Music Initiative’s PA deal. Members of the music community came together to get the new sound system up and running before a slew of weekend shows.
Black Lab now hosts 10 to 15 events a month.
But the gallery hasn’t lost sight of its visual arts roots. Isabella and Nicole are focusing on bringing in more visual and literary arts as well as partnering with local radio station KSER to broadcast artists to a broader audience via a new event called “The Cabaret.”
As far as the future of Black Lab, the Valencia’s have one goal in mind.
“We just want to pack the place out so we can get a bigger space,” Isabella said.
“That’s our long-term goal.”
Black Lab Gallery
1618 Hewitt Ave
Everett, WA 98201
Henry J is the Managing Editor of Live in Everett and plays bass in Oliver Elf Army.