On Sorry About the Flowers, the debut album from Athens quintet Venice Is Sinking, Daniel Lawson and Karolyn Troupe sing of loss and heartbreak in tandem, like a couple in agreement. Troupe's viola arrangements raise the music to blurry tragedy. "Decided to be undecided/At least you're being open-minded/I never would have guessed/That we could make this mess/Any worse than it had already gotten/Is this what I really wanted/With nothing left to lose/I lost my only excuse/It was you," sing the two on the beautifully sad "Undecided."
But during an April 8 showcase alongside other Athens acts such as Geoff Reacher, the Ginger Envelope, the Summer Hymns and Engineering, Venice Is Sinking sounded nothing like that recording. Rocking out with a jumpy energy, the band introduced upbeat new songs like "What Makes You Think You're the One." "There's not a lot of bands from Athens that have a trumpeter," boasted Lawson of pianist Alex Thibadeaux, who busted out a trumpet during one number.
The five appeared to enjoy themselves during the seven-song set, joking their way through a cover of the Ramones' "Pet Cemetery." Oddly, though, they also apologized to the audience. "Thank you for seeing our half-ass show," Troupe said at the end. "We'll improve."
What was the problem? "You kind of caught us on a weird night. [Troupe] didn't have [her] viola," Lawson said a few days after the show. Then he added, "But even if [she] did have her viola, we're definitely a different animal live than we are in the studio.
"I've always liked bands that are like that. I listened to Sebadoh a lot in high school, and whenever I would see them live, they'd take these two-minute long, pretty, acoustic little songs, and just add distortion. It was a totally different experience. I think it's semi-conscious on our part" to do something new with the Sorry About the Flowers songs, he said. "Besides, it'd be pretty difficult to have 10 people on stage, [which we'd need] in order to re-create the record."
Venice Is Sinking plays with Homeroom at 10 High on Fri., April 28.
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