October 2, 2010
The first time I saw Placentia punk band Longfellow play was at a little club in Pomona in 1996. I seem to recall singer Tom Schmitt leaping off a banquet table into the crowd. Of course, the crowd that evening was fairly thin, but it didn't seem to matter to the band who was rocking 110 percent. No doubt it was this genuine enthusiasm that saw Longfellow record four albums and tour nationally 10 times.
More than a decade later, this determination is still present in Schmitt's newer band, Sederra, despite the fact that Orange County is no longer home to the thriving punk scene once found here in the '90s.
Still sporting three members from Longfellow's original lineup, Sederra features singer Schmitt, guitarist Mike Doherty and guitarist Tony Warner. The overall sound skews more rock & roll though the punk influence is undeniable.
Saturday night, the band, rounded out by bassist Eric Bootow and drummer Will Wentworth, delivered a powerhouse 10-song set. Looking like a Frankenstein who just snorted a few lines of meth on songs like "Fly to the Sun," Schmitt mimed to the music as if he were a robot on a pogo stick.
The set highlight included the final jam "Last Train Comin'," which inspired fist pumping and loud emphatic 'heys" from the audience. The end of the song witnessed a dynamic spaced-out break that built to a staccato drum and guitar crescendo. As the intensity built, Schmitt, with eyes closed, smiled blithely.
Throughout the evening, lead guitarist Mike Doherty busted out the face melters on songs like "The Virus" while bassist Eric Bootow threatened to poke out someone's eye as he dashed across the stage plucking his bass with reckless abandon.
The Crowd: Guys in trucker hats rocking tattoos. Girls in tight jeans and stiletto heels. More than 50 people squeezed into the tiny performance room at Slidebar.
Overheard: "I rocked that song so hard I chipped my tooth," said the singer of opening act Cromwell, Kenny Russell. "Call 1-800-Dentist!" yelled someone in the crowd.
Personal bias: Saw lots of Longfellow shows. Thought they were one of Orange County's defining punk bands in the late '90s and early millennium.