By doing convincing covers of songs by Led Zepplin, the Who and the like, D.C. Star has become a top-drawing band in the suburbs of Washington, Baltimore and New York. The southern Maryland quintet may be on the verge of a major-label record contract. At the Bayou last night, D.C. Star played a set of their own songs, as if to prove they are more than just a cover band. They played heavy-metal rock cliches with undeniable talent and professionalism, but cliches done well are still cliches. u

Front man Ken Taylor pulled off the crucial hard rock trick of screaming in key. He was downright tuneful at times. Similarly, guitarist Jeff Avery mixed melodic solos among his driving power chords. Unfortunately, everything about the band -- from songwriting to performance -- was designed to impress the crowd with style rather than reveal any personal emotions.

Though the show was scheduled for 8 p.m., the opening act, Virginia's Savage, went on after 9 and D.C. Star after 11. Virginia's Savage committed all the worst sins of heavy metal rock: unrelentingly crude chording, Pointlessly repetitive solos, tunelessly high-pitched wailing and laughably fake sexual posturing. This quintet should spend less time at the hairdresser and more time at a good record library.