It may just be time to try to forget the cowbell.

Decades after Blue Oyster Cult was parodied on 'Saturday Night Live" with the famous "More Cowbell" sketch, it's often the first thing many think of when they consider the band. But the band, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, has shown they're a lot more than that.

"I know a lot of bands get very creative and expand upon their catalog, maybe going out with a string section," said guitarist and frontman Eric Bloom. "That's not really us."

What is Blue Oyster Cult, often referred to as "heavy metal's brainiest band," is to mix up the set of their much-loved songs that include "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Burnin' For You," while using different heavy metal lineups.

Blue Oyster Cult
When: 7 p.m. doors, Saturday
Where: State Theatre, 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church
Info: $35; 703-237-0300;

Consider the special anniversary gig last month at New York's Best Buy Theatre, which reunited all five of the original members including Bloom, Buck Dharma (Don Roesner), Allen Lanier, Joe Bouchard and Albert Bouchard. Fans from throughout the world flocked to Times Square to hear the band and witness the much-anticipated reunion.

The previous month the current Blue Oyster Cult lineup plus percussionist Andy Ascolese, a BOC roadie, who is keyboardist/guitarist Richie Castellano's musical partner, performed its first ever all-acoustic show. Perhaps there was no orchestra behind the band, but the songs including such rare tracks as "Dancin' in the Ruins," had new arrangements and instrumentation.

Although some bands grow weary of their classic hits, Bloom and his bandmates know that's what fans want to hear. He talks about seeing a well-known rock band not too long ago and recalls his disappointment that they didn't play a major hit.

But it's not just fans that enjoy the hits. Bloom talks about the intricacies of the songs that he re-familiarized himself prior to last month's release of the 17-disc Columbia Albums Collection.

"I cull the set list every night," he said. "Actually, I will change the show in the middle of the show, too, if we need some new energy. No one can do the same show over and over again, unless it's the Who."