U.S. Maple with Phut and Captain, Captain

Monday, Sept. 27; Side Door

Sep 22, 1999 at 4:00 am

Really, you probably won't like U.S. Maple. If you played their recent release Talker (Drag City) to 1,000 unsuspectings, 800 would be at a complete disinterested loss, 150 would be visibly angry, 40 would be nervous and scared, 7 would like it just because they thought it would be hip to do so, two would be able to tell you exactly why U.S. Maple sucked hard and one — maybe one — would be giddy.

From the start, U.S. Maple was out to flummox the rockers — the toughies who thought they could handle any messed-up, angular garbage tossed their way. It seemed a challenge to the band: How many people can we get to not like us, and how many of these people will like us in spite of all logic? In the process, though, they poked through to unfettered freedom — a blindfold was removed and, in its stead, a cape, some leotards and fancy red Mercury boots appeared. "I once was blind, but now I leap.... "

Rhythm? Who needs it? Melody? That's for girlie-men. Structure? Passé.

Talker is produced by Michael Gira, formerly of the Swans, and, like that band, U.S. Maple ignores nearly everything except maybe contempt and thoughtfulness (a dangerous combination). They use guitars, but loosely and seemingly without reason (though ability shines). Vocalist Al Johnson has moved from bellowing annoyance to sandpaper-whispering annoyance — but he sure as hell means whatever it is he's trying to say. Live, they're one of the most excitingly baffling bands you'll ever (not) see, and it'd be worth your time to go ahead and waste it here.

Opening will be St. Louis' most adventuresome rockesque band, Phut, and the newly formed Captain, Captain.