The Pageant, we're willing to admit, may be too prettified and pristine to qualify as Best Rock & Roll Club. Despite corporate co-optation and an embarrassment (in both senses) of potbellied geezers croaking out 30-year-old hits, rock remains -- at its still-vital heart -- the music of rebellion: scruffy, disreputable, loud, profane, dangerous. Rock & roll clubs tend to reflect that lowdown-and-dirty aesthetic: They're overcrowded, smoke-enshrouded, eardrum-piercing hovels with mismatched tables and wobbly chairs, scarred and graffiti-scrawled walls, bare light bulbs and exposed wiring, stopped-up toilets and mysterious liquids pooled menacingly in the corners. The freshly minted Pageant, with its well-scrubbed environs and tastefully modern décor, clearly fails to qualify -- unless you're actually interested in seeing
the band and enjoying
the show. With its unparalleled sightlines, discreetly efficient drink service, generous (but not cavernous) size and mix of table and theater-style seating, the Pageant places the music -- imagine that -- at the center of the concert experience. And although the venue's sound has sometimes wavered in quality, the problems have been recognized and corrected, with further tweaking in progress. Yes, it's awfully shiny and new, but isn't youth a good thing when it comes to rock & roll?