The city's smoking ban and the new A/C have made the Firebird a more pleasant place to see a show, but this midtown venue still isn't built for comfort. The sign outside is inscrutably small, the lights are low and the employees are no-bullshit. But you don't go to a show for pampering. You go for music, and the Firebird has the city's best talent-buying team, scoring such reunion classics as the Get Up Kids and MU330, such bands on the brink as Foals and such weird gems as Marnie Stern and Hunx and His Punx. These days, you could go to every Firebird show for a three-week span and never see the same kind of thing twice: A hip-hop legend here, a local band headed for bigger things there — and make sure you've got your earplugs for the metal show next. Rock & roll, in its many unexpected forms, lives, and in St. Louis it lives at the Firebird.