SMC students by day, rock stars by night.
On Monday night amidst the quiet of Lincoln Blvd, a bluesy roar enveloped The TRiP bar, courtesy of Albino Rino, a hard-hitting band composed of Santa Monica College film students who met on set and decided they could make music together. The group features Jihan Casquejo on guitar, David Fields on drums, and Robert Paradov on bass. Together they produced a ferocious combination of ripping licks, monstrous drumming and smooth bass lines that sounded like a hybrid spawn of all that is stylish, edgy and raw of rhythm and blues. Their sound evoked Cream, The Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix and the kind of decadent blues Aerosmith pulled off in their album "Honkin' On Bobo."
Their set list this evening even included a scorching rendition of Hendrix's "Little Wing."
It was a packed bar, with denizens drinking elixirs of Nordic debauchery as Casquejo played burning notes with an intense precision and focus. When he tears into a number he seems to float into an ether of hazy notes that can turn into roaring cycles.
Fields does an impressive double duty of playing the drums while providing vocals. He only took a break when Paradov switched instruments with Casquejo and performed a slow burning, Punkish number about a school yard fight.
It was SMC's film program that initially brought them together. The renegade band first gestated on the set of "Cora," the latest short film project produced by SMC's Film 33 class which immerses students in the full experience of making a movie. Paradov had already known Casquejo from earlier in the film program.
"We're a funky rhino moving forward, we're different, we're charging with the funk," said Fields after the band's set was done.
The band is even being managed by Christopher Rojas, another fellow SMC film student and producer.
"We try to practice once a week," said Casquejo. "We've been working on sets."
Scheduled to play only 35 minutes, they were allowed to add two more songs when the follow up band ran very late.
When they're not gripping or directing, the band members enjoy grooving together and carrying out immersive, free form jams, the spirit of which manifested itself clearly onstage at The TRiP.
"We all have riffs we like. I freestyle lyrics. If we like them we keep them," said Fields. "My dad was a blues guitarist from San Francisco. It's great to find people like Jay who appreciate artists like Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Cream. All these old grooves."
A guitarist since the age of 16, Casquejo improvises his solos on the spot.
"When it comes to the solos I say 'OK, here we go.' It's kind of nerve-wracking. I just get into the groove," he said. "I'm a blues man to the bone."
But when the equipment is packed, the band members find themselves turning into filmmakers again as they work on local indie sets, personal projects and continue to work in SMC's wide array of film productions. Casquejo and Fields are planning to make a music video soon.
As the final drum was loaded, the trio wandered off into the night, a band of rebels and film auteurs seeking to master both image and sound.