When I was playing out it was with a blues band. I used the two channels of my Fender Prosonic driving speakers through a Marshall Power Brake. I know some folks have trouble with pbrakes and etc, but I never did.
The only other thing I used was a modified TS-9 (original components in the signal path, different eq/filter) and a Univibe.
But it depends on what one does. I don't play/practice much right now (I'm in one of those periods in my life), but have a friend who relies on a Pod for a lot of his patches.
I share the observation that in general digital patches/fx don't sound as good. Things have come a long way from the old "buzz saw" rack sound days, but I still prefer to both play and hear analog signals. YMMV.
It really depends on styles and etc as well. For a cover band playing a lot of different stuff, I'd first figure out the sounds I wanted, then audition whatever units would give me those sounds.
Having a volume pedal is good (if you can't pinky the volume knobs on your git), as are expression pedals.
Whatever you end up with, make sure you *can* switch patches/sounds cleanly, on demand, and make sure you balance the gain in the various patches/signal-paths.
The other git player in our blues band was always fooling around with pedal combinations etc, and several times at every gig he'd either drop out of the "mix" or come in so strong that he stomped on the rest of us. That not only sounds amateurish and is painfully obvious, it drives sound guys nuts.