So what separates a mainstream punk/ hardcore/metal band from an indie punk/ hardcore/metal band? Hype, mostly. Tonight's three main attractions are lauded as alternatives to the alternative, and a few of 'em may actually deserve the attention. Hot Water Music is a foolproof "post-hardcore" Florida outfit with a seven-year track record of noisy and honest-to-God punk innovation. HWM's new record, A Flight and a Crash
, is nervous, edgy, and unpredictable -- which is a very, very good thing. Cave In, meanwhile, is a fledgling quartet that recently traded in its teeth-grinding hardcore assault for a slick, arty, melodic prog-metal sound (evidenced on Jupiter
, the band's latest album). The group, which just inked a deal with RCA Records, sounds like Radiohead with actual songs or Jimmy Eat World with some balls. At the synthetic end of the spectrum, you get the Alkaline Trio, who put hooky adolescent punk through its paces. If these guys wrote better songs with sharper hooks and more memorable choruses, they'd sound like Blink 182. They don't, but though poop jokes are largely absent on the trio's From Here to Infirmary
, the wordy, Eve 6-esque punk songs contained therein will have you longing for a good "sex with your mom" reference.