What Jonathan Richman chooses to sing about (martians, adolescent infatuation, nudist commune farmers, baseball players, etc) isn't necessarily as important as the way he sings it. Convinced that the 30 years of rock 'n' roll evolution toward increasingly louder and louder bands (culminating in the current indie infatuation with ugly noise) is one big fat mistake, Richman has by now proven that it's the groove, not the volume, that makes for real excitement. The Modern Lovers can create more tension and thrills with two acoustic guitars and a snare drum than most high-wattage acts could ever hope for. Meanwhile, a close listen to Richman's lyric content shows that underneath all the seeming. naivete, he knows every bit as much about angst, alienation, and hell-on-earth as, say, the Smiths or the Cure or anyone else. He just doesn't wallow in it. Tonight and Saturday, Holstein's, 2464 N. Lincoln; 327-3331.