There was "background music" which consisted of a continuous very loud beat (boom, boom, boom,...) whose sole purpose seemed to be to make normal conversation impossible.
This seems to be a "feature" of eating out in the 21st century. Apparently restaurant owners think that the public wants it. However, everyone I know finds it obnoxious. I never return to such restaurants.
Why do restaurants do this? Do they think it creates a "buzz"? Do they want patrons to leave quickly for increased table turnover rather than lingering and chatting? Do they think conversation is "so 20th century"?
The SF Chronicle now gives a noise rating to restaurants in its reviews (one to four bells and a "bomb" to the worst offenders) and I suggest that the Weekly do the same.
I also intend to start writing letters to offending restaurants telling the proprietor that I will not be back and the reason for that decision.