Cave In is more gracious about doling out surprises when playing in front of appreciative fans (as was the case at The Bottleneck November 10) rather than disillusioned mosh-heads. In addition to mining its mid-2000 disc, Jupiter, Cave In unveiled several songs slated for its 2002 major-label debut. Always an experimental act, this Boston-based quartet has fused complex pacing and accessible vocals with its smoldering core. (At one point, an enthusiast remarked to his neighbor that one tune's particularly powerful passage was either "totally Rush" or "a total rush." Either way, the sentiment was appropriate.)
Even when performing its heaviest new tracks (such as the aptly named "Big Riff," which pairs the titular guitar rumbling with some devastating crescendos and impassioned shouts), Cave In never approached the whiplash-inducing stops and starts and primal screams of its early work. Then again, its remaining followers don't go to Cave In shows looking to tap into the group's past. They admire Cave In for what it has become: a burlier version of Radiohead, connecting its falsetto-laced space oddities with entrancing instrumental segues during a seamless set.
Like Cave In, The Icarus Line left the stage minutes before its speakers stopped serenading each other with screeching feedback-obscured mating calls. But unlike the headliners, this nattily attired (black shirts and thin red ties being the dress code) L.A. quartet made a spectacle of its exit, with one guitarist bashing his instrument mercilessly and indiscriminately against the stage floor and into other equipment. It was the perfect end to a progressively entertaining meltdown narrated by singer Aaron Icarus' cat-in-heat yelps and fueled by two guitarists who dueled to each song's death. The whole experience would have seemed more impressive had the audience been inspired to move, but the Cave In crowd was a static lot, content to serve as silent, stationary eyewitnesses to the often-riveting opening act's crimes against its instruments.