Talk Normal

Thanks to a delayed flight I ended up in Austin too late on Tuesday night to actually go out and do anything, so I began the second day of SXSW well rested and not at all hungover, which gave me something of an edge over probably the majority of attendees. Aside from the fact that I missed a Rob Zombie-hosted cocktail party that I’d managed to swing an invite to, the only major downside to the situation was that I had to spend the first part of Wednesday running around picking up credentials and wristbands for various unofficial and semiautonomous venues such as the Fader Fort. So though I most likely heard dozens of acts as I wandered around downtown Austin on errands, I didn’t get to see something I’d actually intended to see until the afternoon.

It was a showcase in the backyard of a typically Austin establishment, a vintage clothing store that also sells records and New Agey hipster jewelry and shares space with a store devoted to art books. I’d hoped to catch Fielded, the current project of former Chicagoan and ex-Ga’an front woman Lindsay Powell, but I managed to show up directly after she finished. But I did get to see Talk Normal, a noisy deconstructionist punk duo that’s become a mainstay of the Brooklyn art-rock scene. I’ve never actually seen them live before, and their set made me regret the many opportunities I’ve had to do so but didn’t take. Guitarist-bassist Sarah Register intersperses minimalist riffing with bursts of grungy noise, while drummer Andrya Ambro flings out the most complex drum parts you can make out of a kit as stripped-down as hers while also delivering an attention-dominating vocal performance and generally making you feel bad about your own ability to multitask.