There is an out-of-the-way group, far removed from rock's main thoroughfare. It is an accommodating ensemble, making comfortable bedfellows of various musical styles, from New Wave to boogie to '50s rock 'n' roll. The decor is punk-tacky -- leather pants, Naugahyde belts and leopard shirts -- but the sound is as loud and inviting as a neon sign.

The group is: the Motels.

The Motels' show at the Bayou last night was an absorbing display or raw energy coupled with melodic intelligence. Surging Hendrix-like guitar chords and crashing yet intricate rhythms tore through the sellout crowd like a saw, while hot sax solos and jazzy keyboards added a rich, harmonic accompaniment. The extended set was a marvel of pacing and control, with loud, pounding numbers giving way to moody, introspective slow songs. At the end of the show, everyone was on their feet.

The Motels have yet to break the record-buying market in a big way, but with more performances like the one last night, the group could become the Howard Johnson's of rock 'n' roll.

The Brains opened the show with a, uh, dippy collection of, uh, dull, uni-maginative, uh, music. Pure mindless rock.