Between the seventh and eighth songs of Looking for Words' debut performance, singer Todd Miller kept looking for the men in uniforms.
"Everybody's on cop watch, right?" Miller asked the audience at Keene Mill Center.
Then the band hammered out "Sanity," the last song on its live CD, recorded right there in the heart of Springfield. All the songs Miller writes are from his experiences in Springfield. The previous song, "Shoulders," is about a relationship in which the guy lets the girl come back. "Sanity" is about a depressed guy who just broke up with his girlfriend; now he's driving around, down in the dumps.
"They're from experiences that happen to myself or friends around me. What I think our band is all about is making real music that people can relate to," Miller said.
THE BAND consists of Marlon Correa on guitar, Elan Kotz on drums, Trey Flythe on bass guitar and Miller on vocals. With roots in Lake Braddock Secondary School, all the musicians can relate to the local area.
One aspect of the local scene they are all used to is the proximity of the shopping center to the West Springfield District police station. After finishing the last song, Officer J. Plazio showed up.
"Normally we wouldn't have a problem with this," Plazio said, "but they're taking a test." He pointed to a student training session at a business right next to the impromptu stage. The concert hadn't had much planning beforehand, and a permit was not obtained, although Miller did go around talking to several of the businesses in the center.
"We'll get a permit next time," Miller said.
Others were enjoying the Saturday afternoon concert.
"What's the harm of playing on a Saturday afternoon?" Elan asked.
Nancy Flythe enjoyed watching her son, Trey, on the bass.
"I think it's a nice healthy thing for teenagers to play music. ... It was a great crowd,." Flythe said, as the band was packing up.
Kaelin Burns, a Lake Braddock senior, was capturing the band's first live performance with her camera. She had all the signs of a future promoter of Looking for Words, but admitted it wasn't so.
"I'm a band girlfriend," Kaelin said. "This is our first mini-gig type thing. I kind of just come along and help out where I can."
THE GROUP’S ACOUSTIC sound is dominated by Dave Matthews, and all four have listed Matthews on their Web site bios. Lynzie Munsell is another band girlfriend who thinks they are going to make it big.
"They're obsessed with Dave Matthews. I would probably bet my life on them being famous. They're not conceited about it at all," Lynzie said.
They sent a tape to the Battle of the Bands at Fair Oaks Mall, but not all of the group were still in high school, as the rules require. Miller and Correa are Lake Braddock alumni, and Trey and Elan are Lake Braddock seniors. Trey is going to West Virginia University, and Elan will be attending Towson University near Baltimore.
The band has sent tapes to TT Reynolds in Fairfax, as well as Jammin' Java in Vienna. On May 22, Looking for Words will be joining several other bands at Clarendon United Methodist church in Arlington for a concert. The other local bands include Free of Charge, Pure, North Avenue and 45th Loft. Scott Carver, a sophomore at Lake Braddock, is in Free of Charge.
"We're more of a punk band," Scott said. "It's totally different."
LFW does have a set of legitimate groupies already. Emily Wrobel is a West Springfield junior who follows the band; Roger "Danger" Carlin promotes them around school, and Matt Eichhorst just likes to hang out with them. Emily is on a dance team and dances to one of their songs, "Destiny."
"It has a lot of meaning behind it. I interpret it about dreams and following your dreams," Emily said. "I've driven over there and watched their practices."
In a best-case scenario, Miller wasn't wishing for MTV exposure, "American Idol," or a spot on "Saturday Night Live."
"I just want to make music that people can relate to," Miller said.