The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players' gig Thursday night at the State Theatre was a drag because the lead singer wouldn't shut up. Jason Trachtenburg's neurotic monologues bored and finally irritated the audience, all but ruining a thin, 55-minute set.
That's a shame because the band is pursuing one of the most interesting and innovative ideas in indie pop music. The Trachtenburgs _ dad Jason, mom Tina and 10-year-old daughter Rachel _ buy old slide carousels at garage sales and write songs based on the pictures. Jason plays keyboard, Rachel pounds the drums, and Tina projects the images, to hilarious effect.
Things started off well enough with Mountain Trip to Japan 1959, a darkly funny melody about public execution and, well, cocker spaniel puppies. Jason, who looks like a younger Rick Moranis, has a nice tenor voice, and Rachel tapped her kid-sized drum kit well enough to keep the rhythm alive. (Let's hope the band adds a rhythm guitarist when it gets a little more established.) Among the slides: airplanes, old ladies sitting on a bridge, a prisoner being marched to his death. Clever.
But then the music stopped and the talking started. Jason prattled on about the band's appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, about the family dog, about anything that came down the spotlight into his head. Even little Rachel got sick of it. "You talk all day," she groaned. It was the one truly funny line of the night.
Between soliloquies the Trachtenburgs tickled the audience with Look at Me (the women in the slides mug for the camera), Eggs (a Vietnam commentary _ go figure), and a smart series of riffs on American corporate culture, taken from slides at a McDonald's company meeting ("Together as a system we are unbeatable").
Given this material, you wonder why the band doesn't care more about the show. Why doesn't Rachel get into the act a little more? A 10-year-old kid playing the nightclub circuit is an intriguing story. And why doesn't Jason pipe down? His music can speak for itself.
_ Mike Wilson can be reached at (727) 892-2924 and mikesptimes.com.