JR's post today has inspired me...
The loudest show I ever saw/heard was Brainiac spring 1997 on their final tour before Tim Taylor died. They played Sudsy Malone's on Vine St. in Cincinnati, and I, as was my custom at the time, got as close to the stage as I could. I stood about 7-8 feet from Juan Monosterio's bass stack, and when he hit a note, I felt it like a punch to my chest. They had more gear onstage than I'd ever seen, and they played tape loops of crowd noise at full volume between songs. I wasn't wearing ear plugs.
Sudsy's was packed and extremely smoky. After three or four songs I started feeling woozy and pushed my way to the washing machines in back _ Sudsy's was/is half a laundromat. I caught my breath and enjoyed the rest of the show _ still plenty loud _ from there.
The two Brainiac shows I witnessed prior to this were among the best I've seen in my life. I still miss 'em.