I went out with friends twice in the past month to get some grub and to catch some live music. Both times we couldn’t get into the music because it was just too stinking loud.
I won’t name names or venue,s but i’ll point out the necessity of good sound. A rock band in a small restaurant just needs to keep the volume down. Rockers like to lean on volume to create excitement, but groove is what creates excitement. I’ve been listening to the Stones a lot the past few weeks, and Keith Richards’s guitar parts are so sexy and stunning. And he plays so much with a fairly clean sound, just a touch of dirty. Overdrive in its place and time, but make sure your group is blending.
For acoustic performers, it’s OK to be a little quiet. You’ll draw people in if you sound good, so don’t crank up the system just to get everyone’s attention. I’d rather have people leaning in to hear better than leaning away because the sound is too harsh on the ear.
Just speaking as an audience member here. Hopefully I translate these opinions over when I’m on the other side of the mike.