On Friday evening I took a short stroll from Tufnell Park Towers over to the Pleasance Theatre to catch the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, performing their Adventures in Middle America Vol.2 show. And what a great little show it was too.
Having met with The Otter – my date for the evening – we settled down on in the front row to enjoy support act Langhorne Slim run through a comedy of errors in what must have made for one of the more calamitous - yet still highly impressive - sets I’d seen in a while. Reaching the climax of his set Slim ended with a rather exhausting and heartfelt number, of which each pause for breath was punctuated by The Otter hollering out his best all-American "Yeah!", until he drew a glare from Slim and an emphatic "No!".
"I thought that’s what he wanted," The Otter later shrugged.
Soon the Trachtenburgs graced the stage. Describing themselves as an Indie–vaudeville conceptual art-pop rock band ("I think we’ve got this corner of the market covered" notes Jason Trachtenburg), the band work on the premise of featuring the slideshows of random strangers which they have purchased at garage stores (and so forth) and then written songs about. The band consist of Dad Jason, Mum Tina and 11-year-old daughter Rachel, and this family aspect just adds to the intimacy and innocence of the show.
The performance was primarily hugely entertaining (the six-song rock opera based on a 1977 McDonald’s executive meeting’s slideshow is worth the entry fee alone), whilst simultaneously being strangely poignant. There’s something about being able to observe all these anonymous strangers, sharing in their private, personal and yet entirely insignificant lives and friendships which had the effect of uplifting me albeit paradoxically on a melancholy wave.* A little like blogs I suppose…
The Trachtenbergs are just about to embark on an extensive UK tour ("We’re playing Liverpool. That’s where the Beatles come from," Rachel informs us shyly, but betraying her excitement), and if you fancy a surreal, enchanting and charming evening out I recommend you try and catch them.
*Chris Cope has written a great little column on something I perceive to be along these lines.
5 weeks ago