Back in the pre-corporate days of rock 'n' roll, it was possible for a frat party dance band to burst into the national consciousness with a fluke hit.

Who can forget the brief flings at glory by bands like The Knickerbockers, The Castaways, and The Sufaris? The B-52s brought back those days of innocence at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum last night.

The B-52s are a new quintet from Athens, Ga., but they look like an early '60s frat band. They sound like one too. They have no more talent than a frat band but are just as much fun. Driven by Ricky Wilson's Ventures-style rhythm guitar, the band locked into a dance groove and never let go.

There was little difference from one song to the next in the B-52s set. of of course, one can say the same about a James Brown show. Brown's tight band and ferocious vocals sustain one's interest, however. The B-52s sloppy playing and detached vocals don't.

The Plastics a punk quintet that the B-52s discovered in Japan, opened the show.This plastic Japanese imitation of Devo had no bassist or drummer. Instead, lthe mechanical rhythms were produced by a synthesizer tape loop. One lead singer dressed, moved, and sang like a windup doll; the other like a scarecrow with a finger in a socket. The whole group played like a windup toy rock band.

Ritchie Coliseum is a giant concrete box that completely scrambled the lyrics and the instrumental mix.The crowded dance floor produced a crush up front and scuffles with the security. The crowd -- whose hair ranged in color from platinum to pink to green -- was often as entertaining as the performers.