I was fairly confident walking in to the Double Door on Tuesday night that I knew exactly what to expect from the evening’s show. After all, I had seen the Slideshow Players a little while back and I knew the premise of the band had not changed. I also watched their recently released DVD no more than 3 weeks ago. In some ways I was justified in my confidence. I believe they only introduced one new song into the mix and I was well prepared for the level of kitsch they would reach. At the end of the day though, it is safe to say my confidence was a little premature.
One simply can’t be fully prepared for the oddity that is the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. They are not an oddity in that Man Man way (that leans more towards insanity doesn’t it?). The oddness does not suck you in, but rather induces a slight confusion that subtly persuades you in and may even comfort you in some way. For starters, I was not prepared for the opening sales pitch/presentation for ("Super D"?) connectors that Jason Trachtenburg laid upon us. It would also be near impossible to be ready for his random thoughts and banter in between songs. In many ways this banter is what keeps the show moving and feeling fresh. The man is unquestionably funny and in the end, the lasting appeal of their show is its comic aspect in song, slides and banter. The whole set was short but it felt just about right. Many of the songs couldn’t have topped the 2 minute mark. The songs have a very elementary feel but can be exceedingly catchy. They are catchy much in the way a commercial jingle is catchy and I am apt to believe this is not entirely unintentional, given the nature of what they do and Jason Trachtenburg’s penchant for satirizing American consumerism. They went through all the hits such as “Look at Me,” “What Will the Corporation Do?,” “Wendy’s, Sambo’s and Long John Silver’s” and closed with the near painfully infectious “Mountain Trip to Japan 1959.”
To critique this show any further would feel a bit absurd, much like their music. I will say on an entertainment level their show is a smashing success. I am not certain how long an act like this will last or can last, but I am not inclined to discuss it because the family seems wholly unaffected by such thoughts. It simply doesn’t really matter.
(words and photos by Rory O'Connor)