Many family vacation slideshows reek of monotony, but the Trachtenburg family is proving these presentations don’t have to be dull.
The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are turning heads in the independent music scene.
Taking its act to a higher level, the family incorporates a genuine set of slide projections into the band’s performance.
The idea of a family band may recall images of the Partridge Family and Hanson, but this group is far from the next mainstream American teeny-bopper sensation.
The trio consists of guitarist/pianist Jason Trachtenburg, his wife Tina Trachtenberg performing the slide projector duties and the couple’s 10-year-old daughter Rachel on drums.
The band started when Jason Trachtenburg had been playing open mic nights and small gigs for years, but needed something extra that would draw people to the family’s show.
Upon Tina Trachtenburg’s insistence, the family purchased a slide projector and added a visual medium to their performance.
The group’s first visual presentation was a stack of slides recovered from a thrift store. The slides, labeled “Mountain Trip to Japan 1959,” were projected while Trachtenburg sang accompaniment along to the slideshow.
The unusual inclusion of a visual element added just the spice the family needed to make its performance a hit, so, Trachtenburg wrote more songs about the pictures the slides portrayed.
After playing sold out coffeehouse shows in the group’s hometown of Seattle, the family packed up and headed toward New York City. There, they immediately gained the attention of the local media.
The family’s notoriety grew so quickly that they were soon selling out famous Manhattan hotspots, and the group even played a set on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
They were the first unsigned band ever on the show. Recently, they have also been featured on Comedy Central’s Web site and on MTV News.
The diverse interests of the group are projected in its slideshow.
The family prefers to display vintage slides from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, along with images of internal government agencies.
Trachtenburg’s songs are all based on the slides the family collects and leads to titles like “Let’s Not Have The Same Weight In 1978 — Let’s Have More” and “Why Did We Decide To Take This Decision To You?”
By using slide images to accompany its tunes, the band has managed to create a show unlike any other. The slides are taken out of context and become the storyboard for Jason’s musical imagination.
The group’s music is bizarre and humorous, yet many of the themes presented are highly political, with lyrics often reflecting Jason’s feelings about government organizations and American culture.
The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are certainly onto something with its creative approach to music. Visual effects make the show more aesthetically pleasing than most bands’ live performances, and the little drummer girl seems to be the icing on the cake.
The act offers concert-goers something new that’s eccentric and absorbing. The true test of a band is, however, the music. If their music is as substantial as their hype, then the Trachtenburgs won’t have to worry about any new gimmicks.
Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players perform at State Theater toninght. Tickets are $13 at the door.