Savage Republic | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Savage Republic


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These Los Angeles-based postpunks were praised throughout the 80s, by critics and by the members of R.E.M. (whose yearly top ten used to be a shopping list for aspiring hipsters), and even had a minor hit in Greece with the single "O Adonis." But they reached their widest audience two years after their 1989 demise, when Jonathan Demme used "Real Men," a tune from their first LP, Tragic Figures, to supply the hoarse shouts, thuggish bass, and clattering percussion that accompany the climactic stalking scene in The Silence of the Lambs. The group could easily have scored a very different movie, though. The martial drumbeats and chiming melodies of "The Ivory Coast" and "Pios Den Mila Yia Ti Lambri" bring to mind jeep patrols kicking up plumes of dust as they motor across the Sahara. (Early on, in fact, the band was called Africa Corps, a name they dropped because of its possible Nazi connotations.) Despite a constantly shifting lineup (multi-instrumentalist Bruce Licher was the only constant member) and a penchant for exploring styles as disparate as industrial noise and Middle Eastern folk, Savage Republic maintained an instantly identifiable sound thanks to the monotone guitar, so named because all its strings were tuned to the same note. The gorgeous landscapes and revolutionary imagery on the album covers were designed and letterpressed by Licher, and this high standard of presentation is maintained on Mobilization's new four-CD box set collecting Savage Republic's complete studio recordings. To support this release the band will play its first dates in 13 years; the lineup will include Licher, of course, as well as Ethan Port, Thom Fuhrmann, Greg Grunke, and Robert Loveless (all of whom have played with him at some point or another) and Man Is the Bastard drummer Joel Connell. Lanterna and Tractor Kings open. Sunday, November 17, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.

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