MaineDog - I agree, I remember loud volume music used to provide a certain physical sensation when I was tanked up student rock concerts.
As to the clashes between conversation, social life, music, these are really clashes of audience/patron/musician expectations. People may go to a pub to have a yarn - yet the band wants to be heard, wants to be more than just background music. Who is going to win that one - the one with a volume knob.
I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned this yet: They say that being irritated by loud noise is actually a symptom of hearing loss - it is your ears telling you to get away from potentially damaging frequencies and volume levels.