What’s the biggest thing about Indianapolis? It’s tough to choose. You have the Speedway and the Indy 500 (of course), all the craft breweries, the cuisine, the shopping and the art – all of which attract their fair share of attention.
But – don’t forget about the music! Since 2019, various organizations in Indianapolis have outright conspired to pump up the city’s volume by encouraging the support of local musicians and venues all over town.
So, where do you go when you want to hear great tunes and have a great time in Indy? You’ve got tons of options, and we have all the details:
Located in Fountain Square for convenience, Radio Radio is the kind of no-frills bar with great acoustics that makes you feel alive. Independent artists from all over the music scene play here, and the calendar of shows is constantly evolving. When you want a sneak peek at the best future music stars to come out of Indy, this is where to start.
8 Seconds Saloon
Can’t get the sounds of country music out of your head or your heart? Then 8 Seconds Saloon is the place to be! This nightclub caters to the folks who want to feel like they’re just a little north of Nashville. Come for the music, stay for the crowd, the dancing and the entertainment.
This movie-theater-turned-club has been rocking Indy with live music since 1977 and The Vogue is consistently mentioned as an Indy musical “hot spot” for those who want to see both established artists and the up-and-coming.
Informally known as “The Mel,” this is one of the oldest bars in Indy, where they’ve been serving up great drinks and even better music since 1935. You can find everything from punk rock to indie, rockabilly to pop and more. When you want live entertainment that will let you really kick back and relax, this is the spot.
Do you long for a good honky-tonk with even better music? Check out Duke’s Indy. Located just a few miles south of Lucas Oil Stadium, you may feel more like you’ve been transported straight to the countryside. When you want traditional country music in a place that feels like home, head here.
The Egyptian Room
If you’re looking for premier entertainment and luxury, you don’t want to miss the lineup at The Egyptian Room in Old National Centre. The 55-foot stage is the spot where many local artists get noticed, and the unique atmosphere and 2,000-person limit makes this a uniquely intimate experience.
Tucked neatly inside the Murphy Art Centre, HI-FI is home to many local artists. There is a strict 21-and-over policy to get in the door, and it’s general admission only for all shows. Amazing artists find their way here, and the 400-person venue lets you get close to the stage for an experience that’s both intimate and awesome.
Hilbert Circle Theatre
Are symphonies your thing? If so, you absolutely have to check out the Hilbert Circle Theatre. For more than 100 years, this iconic building has graced Monument Circle and it’s the home of the renowned Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Slippery Noodle Inn
Are you looking for history? Visit the state’s oldest bar in continuous operation for “open mic night” and check out the acts. The Slippery Noodle Inn is a particularly well-known spot for rhythm and blues musicians, which makes it even better if you’re looking for a new beat.
Ruoff Music Center
True, the Ruoff Music Center is a 30-minute trip north of Indy to Noblesville, but the shows you’ll see at this outdoor venue stop at nothing short of spectacular. If you love the excitement of big-name acts and outdoor music shows, this is so worth the trip.
Howl at the Moon
Miss the 90s music scene? Feel like the 80s should never have ended? Like some of the modern tunes, too? You’ll feel right at home when you visit Howl at the Moon for the food, the drinks or the tunes. This is one of Indy’s best live music bars, so come expecting to hear music from all genres.
Square Cat Vinyl
What is this place? Is it a bar, a coffee shop, a record store or a music venue? Square Cat Vinyl is all of the above – and more! The owners had a vision of a communal space for musicians to meet, greet and learn from each other, and the magic they create through their harmony is astounding.
The TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park only seats 6,000, but it’s a stunning outdoor venue easily accessed from Indy’s downtown area, which makes it convenient for people to enjoy. If you’re looking for a stage under the stars and an incredible, curated concert series, this is the place to be looking this summer.
Keep in mind, these are just the most prominent spots for live music, but there are loads of small restaurants and local bars that book live music throughout the summer. You may find stellar small bands playing just around the corner from your home.
Whether you’re looking for something to do with the kids, or you want to find an unconventional way to spend the day with a date, Indianapolis is always full of fun.