There were 27 bodies, including groupies, hangers-on and reviewers, in F Street's Atlantis Night Club on Thursday evening when a genuine American legend took the stage.

Lance Loud, eldest son of Bill and Pat, star of PBS' 1973 documentary "An American Family," made his Washington show-biz debut with his punk rock array, The Mumps.

The group puts forward a standard punk package (lackluster rock n' roll accompanied by "Gosh-we're-angry) and, like so many others, affects Elvis Costello-style contortions and dresses up like the kid in your gym class who could never get his locker open.

The story and the real reason the Mumps are on the road is Lance Loud, who underwent an identity crisis in front of several million viewers, and seems to have weathered it all rather well.

His act, while eminently forgettable, is at least full of good humor and sweaty energy. Loud possesses an ineffabel sort of star quality, though it is one that should not be confused with talent.

Still, the young man who was once characterized by a West Cost television critic as "a Goyaesque emotional dwarf" appears to have landed on his feet.

Unfortunately for us, he landed in rock music.