Yo La Tengo (YLT) v. Built to Spill (BTS)
1) Atmosphere: Cannot beat a nice summer evening watching a show on the lawn of Hartwood Acres. If it rains, no go. Mr Smalls is the best mid-size venue (and arguably overall) in the city. Packed shows due tend to create quite a sweat even with the new ac.
2) Libations: Hartwood offers the luxury of bringing in a cooler of your favorite beverage for no charge. Lay on a lawn chair or blanket with a cold one right next to your side. Mr Smalls charges about $4 -8 per beverage. A decent selection and price, but not great. You have to stand amongst some drunks and the constant bumping of body parts.
3) Music: Both bands are well known amongst us music snobs. BTS defined the 90's hipster scene. When ask what 'indie music' is, most pointed to BTS as the definition. YLT has a long history dating back to the early 80's. They are usually a critics favorite, but also have a good following amongst music listeners. Plus, they have transcended their sound many times over.
4) Popularity: BTS is still on Warner Brothers and appeared on the charts when their last album There Is No Enemy came out. They would still be seen as flying just below the radar. You are much more likely to hear a BTS than YLT song while shopping at American Outfitters. YLT is on Matador but don't have the appeal for mass consumption.
5) Legacy: While some have compared YLT to The Velvet Underground I just don't see it. They have gone stale with their last few records. Question is who's album are you more likely to play in 20 years? BTS hands down (Perfect From Now On, Keep It Like a Secret).
6) Live Performance: I have seen both bands live a few times (BTS 3, YLT 2). While BTS doesn't blow the doors off the roof, they provide a solid, if not good performance. YLT on the other hand are the direct opposite. I have seen many live shows in my time, but I can only recall one band that I walked out on twice. That would be YLT. Absolutely, one of the most boring live acts without a doubt. I was disgusted that I spent money on them two times.
Final Analysis: BTS
Even with YLT as a free show, I just don't want to waste my time seeing someone I will watch for 10 minutes before running for the car. Of course, others might have a differing opinion.