Like Patti Smith, Lois Maffeo was a rock critic before she was a recording artist. And like Smith she plays rock 'n' roll without catering to preconceptions about what women can or can't do. But there the similarities end. Maffeo came up through the indie-rock ranks of the Pacific Northwest, writing for fanzines and deejaying an all-female radio show called Your Dream Girl for several years before she released her first single in 1990 with the acoustic duo Courtney Love (whose membership never included Kurt Cobain's wife, though she and Maffeo once roomed together in Portland, Oregon). Everything about Courtney Love was succinct: Maffeo's two-chord, two-verse songs, the band's preferred format (seven-inch singles), its drums-and-acoustic-guitar lineup, even its duration--Courtney Love broke up in 1991. Now billing herself as just Lois, Maffeo has released two albums that remain committed to the virtues of simplicity and brevity; both records run through 11 songs in less than half an hour. She has a gift for writing memorable melodies that are well suited to her ingenuous voice. Most of the lyrics are about interpersonal relationships, a subject to which she applies a dry wit and a swagger that enliven her saddest moments. Live she's an engaging performer whose friendly banter can be just as entertaining as her songs, and her guitar playing makes up in brash energy what it lacks in finesse. For her Chicago debut as a solo act Lois will be backed by ex-Tiger Trap drummer Heather Dunn; Lync and Saucer open. Saturday, 10:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Monica Gesue.