The rock 'n' roll concert of today is, for the most part, a pale version of its raucous predecessors. Indolent superstars, flabby from success (and excess) parade their predictable shows around the country, appearing before crowds who have become satiated with laser displays, theatrics and sequined-studed outfits.

Talking Heads is out to change all that.

Saturday night, at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall, the New York-based group featured a set that was almost Spartan in its lack of musical and presentational frills. Their rough, basic brand of rock, devoid of pretty harmonies and flashy playing, cut across the sellout crowd like a razor-sharp sickle, ravaging everything in its path.

David Byrne writhed and contorted his way across the stage like a crazed marionette, unleasing barrages of stuttering guitar leads while spitting out vocals that seemed to defy the melody lines.Drummer Chris Frantz splintered drumsticks and flailed madly while providing a rhythmic background that was stark yet tense and dramatic.

The group's appearance was equally stark - mostly drab T-shirts and stovepipe pants, with haircuts that were more hacked-out than tighly coifed. They went from song to song, with few references to their listeners intent on confronting rather than pacifying the crowd.

The Talking Heads let their music do the talking. The songs screamed, screeched and yelled like the distant voice of an earlier, more rebellious era of rock music.