Band welcomes fans to the jungle
Posted March 09, 2007
Leah Heagy
The Press restaurant in Claremont was packed on March 2 as indie rock group Savage Republic performed. The group originally formed in 1981 as the Africa Corps at UCLA. Lead singer Thom Fuhrmann wanted to perform at the Press before touring Europe in September.

Insightful lyrics can sometimes draw a person into a song. Even catchy though not very insightful lyrics can be entertaining.

Given this, Savage Republic’s show at the Press restaurant Saturday was a disappointment.

The show began a half-hour late at 10:30.

Talking about their upcoming European tour, lead singer Thom Fuhrmann said to the audience: “We’d love to start our European tour here, but we don’t have any mics.”

When someone at the restaurant finally found a mic, band members situated themselves on the tiny floor-level stage and hammered into their first song.

The Los Angeles group has been together since 1985. The lineup has changed since then, but still includes three of the original members, Thom Fuhrmann, Greg Grunke and Ethan Port, as well as new members Val Hallerand and Alan Waddington.

Saturday’s lineup featured Fuhrmann on vocals, Port on the snare drum, Waddington on drums and Haller and Grunke on bass.

The band had a pounding, tribal sound, and yet a few of the songs played had a beachy, almost tropical sound incorporated into them, due to the snare drum.

Their music filled the room and created a crazy mix of tense, loud music that continued building up into a frenzy of energetic jungle noise.

While the band played it was difficult to think, or even really breathe, because they created a big and impressive, almost suffocating sound which surrounded listeners.

At one point, every band member except the drummer held a bass or guitar. Although each guitarist played well, the situation was very odd.

Waddington was a crazy drummer, curly hair loose, eyes squeezed shut and mouth wide open, but Furhmann was an even wackier lead singer.

He danced around, made faces at the audience and struck an idyllic pose periodically. He even took off his shirt at one point, which inticed Waddington and Port to follow.

Grunke and Haller were a bit more modest and kept their clothes on as they rocked out.

The band’s deep thumping music seemed to shake all 40 people in the back concert room of the restaurant.

Everyone looked hypnotized by the music, whether they actually enjoyed it or not.

Zoning out as they nodded their heads to the beat, they were startled back to reality after hearing a first taste of Furhmann’s vocals.

Maybe it was the acoustics, because the Press Restaurant is not built to house loud, heavy metal bands, or maybe it was Fuhrmann’s deep, droning voice but it seemed that few could understand what was being screamed.

Occasionally a word or two would stand out, but for the most part the lyrics were a jumble of muffles and shouts, and what could be easily deciphered did not seem complex, or thoughtful.

Although there were only a few songs from the 10-song set and two-song encore that featured heavy vocals, the band should stick to their instruments.

Still, Savage Republic does much to keep their music loud, brash and bold.

The instruments are masterfully played, even if there were a million guitars on stage, and the music is structured, even if it sounds off-the-cuff.

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Lilia Cabello can be reached at

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