Playing lead is a lot more challenging and you have more "pressure" on you, sometimes it's more fun to play rythym and just enjoy the simpler aspects of music. I like both, and I'm actually doing both in my band, cause I'm the only guitarist. (we feel that keyboards add a lot more to the music than two guitars)
Man, I'd love to get some Mesa Boogie cabs, but I just can't afford them right now either. I recently bought a Korg AX5G for effects and the little thing kicks ass! Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqCADd4O3x4
It's cheap and definitely worth it if only to make your guitar sound better. (and it has some really cool acoustic and clean effects if you play a lot of chords)
I'm using it in rehearsals and I love it.
Anyway, I hope you can make something happen with your band and I'll be more than happy to hear any news.