Not as comfortable, cool or pretty a concert site as the Jefferson Memorial, the west terrace of the U.S. Capitol nevertheless offers a patriotism-inspiring backdrop. As at the Jefferson, concerts here are primarily performed by alternating bands from the various branches of the military, and always for free.

With no lawn to sprawl over and no real shade, one should go to a Capitol concert with standing in mind, or else have a tolerance for extended periods of cement against the backside. Bring something along to sip on, too; sitting on those hot steps at the end of a steamy summer day, even the most avid concert-goer can grow light of head and parched of throat.

A definite advantage over the Jefferson is the natural placement of the bands: at the bottom of the steps, where everyone can see. Even when you come late to a concert at the Capitol steps, you get a good viewing location. And there's simply not a more stirring spot to hear a good Sousa march. CAPITOL CONCERTS -- Military bands perform every Monday, Tuesday and Friday through the summer, with an occasional Wednesday also thrown in. Concerts start at either 8 or 8:30. For schedules, call the band offices of the Army (692-7219), Navy (433- 2300), Air Force (767-5658) or Marines (433-4011).