Chicago's Alkaline Trio
is what successful punk rock looks like in 2001. The band's three members (duh) don't sport '77-style Mohawks or '97-style big pants; they're just regular guys crafting great punk-rock songs, songs that rock hard enough to get the crowd jumping around at shows but are well played and lyrically interesting enough for home enjoyment. As with all good Chicago punk, there's a hint of Naked Raygun in the Alkaline Trio's sound, but they have more in common with such major-label-style, radio-friendly poppy punkers as the gobbled-up-and-dropped Smoking Popes. Former Smoking Pope Mike Felumlee drums for the band now, though, so it's unlikely they'll be tempted to journey into the major-label killing fields anytime soon. And why would the Alkaline Trio need a major label anyway, when they can pack 'em in, 200 shows a year, on the all-ages-punk-club circuit? With the trio putting out a new album (due in April) on big punk indie label Vagrant Records (after a successful stint on tiny ska-punk indie label Asian Man), 2001 should be the year the group breaks big.Opening the show is raw-rocking girl-punk quartet the Dishes
(pictured above). Also straight out of Chicago, the Dishes recently released their debut (on No. 89 Records), and it's a blast of fresh air: 13 songs in 27 minutes. The Dishes may, on first listen, come off as a less-polished version of the Donnas, but their influences seem to stretch back through Thee Headcoatees to punk first-wavers like X-Ray Spex. If they have half as much fun onstage as it sounds like they had recording their album, this show is not to be missed.