In Boston, we got Gang of 2 1/2, since Hugo Burnham teaches in Boston. Why did you give up on taking a big camera everywhere? You have years of really awesome photos. Did it just get to be too much hassle?
Taking "real" cameras into venues that I don't own is always a pain in the ass, because I never know ahead of time if they're going to tell me that I can't... and if they do, I can't really lock the camera in the trunk of my bicycle.
All of the photos of mine that you are remembering were taken at DNA, mostly at Pop Roxx.
You don't see those any more because we pretty much never have bands at DNA that aren't metal, and I don't care about those.
Get yourself a nice pocketable camera like an S95.
Still, if they frisk you, and bounce the camera, it's the same problem of what to do with it. I only take mine to two or three small venues that I know always allow it because it's not worth the hassle. The bigger (House of Blues concrete abomination) are strict enough that it's not worth bothering at all. The other night I watched their Balcony Narcs light a ton of people up with laser pointers who were physically ejected, seemingly just while standing around before the show. I can only assume they saw evidence of a camera. One was a couple in their late 40s, so not exactly the "troublemaker" type.
Holy shit. I always tried to avoid House of Blues just because it seemed like the kind of place that yuppie-types go to feel like they're still in touch with rock'n'roll, but I didn't realize they'd gotten that draconian about things.
I notice you've booked Peelander Z for April. Have you seen them play before? That should be a fun show to photograph. Plus you might get to see someone get their tooth knocked out.