The First Avenue Mainroom boasts the richest rock legacy, Orchestra Hall claims the creamiest acoustics, and the Orpheum wins points for architectural significance. But when it comes to intimate, instantly memorable performance spaces, the BLB's cozy under-100 seater rules the local lot. Hometown mainstays like Mason Jennings and Happy Apple have built solid foundations here; national acts drop in less often, but when they do, it's usually a blessing for performer and audience alike. In essence, there's nowhere to hide at the BLB: no mucked-up monitor mix to lament, no wall of speakers or faceless mass of fans to mask an artist's anxiety. (There is the jarring crash of bowling pins to be heard over quieter acts--but most hipster bowlers here aren't knocking down too many at a time.) Sure, you can plug in (as local bands do nearly every Sunday night for Mary Lucia's Popular Creeps radio broadcast), but this room's finest moments are its hushed ones, when the pluck of a string or the lilt of a naked human tenor can bring you within arm's reach of the muse. (It's not just for straight-up folkies and jazzbos, either, as the newly rejuvenated Noiseless series proved a few months back.) A virtual absence of "bad" seats and a full menu of beer, wine, and edibles only sweeten the pot. Indeed, if you haven't seen your favorite band here, then you haven't really seen your favorite band.


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