In our consumer-based culture we’ve been taught that more is good; however this is often far from true. On Thursday, March 28, PHILM set out to prove that sometimes it’s better to scale things down. With a combined thirty-plus years in the music business, PHILM has become a creative home base for drummer extraordinaire Dave Lombardo (Slayer), renowned bassist Pancho Tomaselli (WAR) and the ever impressive guitarist/vocalist Gerry Nestler (Civil Defiance).
With the release of their album Harmonic last May, PHILM re-established the definition of what a 21st century power trio is. Drawing on influences that range from psychedelic music to funk, PHILM is a unique entity all its own. PHILM is a band where everybody’s input is equally important and respected. They’re a supergroup without the egos and baggage that one might expect from such accomplished musicians.
PHILM’s headlining gig at Long Beach’s Gaslamp was an exercise in eccentric brilliance. Lombardo has scaled his drum kit down to a four-piece set that is reminiscent of drumming legends Ginger Baker and Keith Moon, but the sound he gets is as rich and layered as anything he’s ever done before. PHILM brings a neo-psychedelic jazz sound mixed with hardcore punk and metal. There’s so much going on musically that one may wonder how it all comes together, but as with any good band, the proof is in the live performance and PHILM delivered in a most unexpected way.
From their opening song “Lady of the Lake” the Gaslamp was transformed into what can only be described as an ambient land of melodious thunder and lights. Seeing Lombardo up front with his bandmates rather then pushed back behind a wall of drums was living proof that PHILM is indeed a band of equals where no single member is more important than the other. PHILM’s interstellar sound is fast and frantic and the crowd on Thursday night was swept up in the fury. Watching Lombardo play is like watching a master magician. You know that Lombardo is playing with two drumsticks, but the speed he plays at is so incredibly fast that it looks like he’s holding four. Nestler is like a manic preacher meets Cheshire Cat pointing the listener in several directions at once and Tomaselli compliments PHILM with his funk metal fusion that finds his fingers moving all over the fretboard leaving no room for a pick. Thursday’s show was a musical demonstration of what happens when three musicians are left alone to play what they feel without worry of conventions or criticism. The world of music is often oversaturated with labels and PHILM is a band that defies any generic label.
Much like Nirvana, Cream and even the Jimi Hendrix Experience, PHILM is one of those rare bands that leaves people awe-struck and blindsided. It’s been a long time since anyone has come out with a sound that is as refreshing as what PHILM is able to lay down. The world of music has needed a kick in the ass for quite awhile and PHILM are more than happy to provide the steel-toed boot. It’s good to finally be excited by a band again or the state of music in general for that matter. PHILM gives listeners something new and intriguing. They offer a psychedelic trip of metal madness down the rabbit hole. I advise you follow them; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.