Would it surprise you to learn that a thriving music scene is one of the most compelling qualities a city can have?
It doesn’t surprise city leaders and civic groups in Indy, that’s for sure! Since 2019, Indy Chamber, Visit Indy, the Central Indiana Community Foundation and the city of Indianapolis itself have joined forces to both generate attention on Indy’s music scene and guide its future.
They recognize that good music can help spur on economic growth, encourage the development of new businesses, amp up the tourist trade and (of course) make an area even more attractive to both residents and would-be residents alike. That’s why they’re all working together to make Indy just as vibrant for musicians as it is for artists, the fine dining industry and the craft beer scene.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about where you can go to find great live music right here in the city:
Downtown Olly’s – 822 N. Illinois St.
Downtown Olly’s is a wonderful place to stop for a bite and it has a fun, high-energy vibe any time of the day — but the real action happens in The Backyard, outside. Newly reconstructed for 2021, its annual Summer Concert Series is back in action. Kicking off the season is a local music favorite, Tommy Icarus — and there’s more to come all summer.
Rathskeller at the Athenaeum – 401 E. Michigan Ave.
If you’re still a bit iffy about indoor clubs and bars because of COVID-19, why not hit an outdoor venue instead? The Rathskeller has an indoor dining area that’s family-friendly, but its outdoor Biergarten is strictly for the “21 and older” crowd. Wednesdays through Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays), there’s live music from artists like Stella Luna, Cosmic Situation and Kentucky-Southbound.
8 Seconds Saloon – 111 N Lynhurst Dr.
Want to feel that cool Nashville style without leaving town? Head over to the 8 Seconds Saloon where the bands are live, there’s dancing all night, mechanical bull rides and tons of fun. Line dancing is the name of the game here — but don’t worry if you don’t know how because they’re happy to teach you!
HI-FI – 1043 Virginia Ave.
Located in Fountain Square inside the Murphy Art Center, HI-FI is the place to go when you want to get up on your feet and dance. While not the largest venue, HI-FI offers intimate performance space for indie artists and national names alike. Come here to groove to the likes of Red Wanting Blue, Band of Horses and Indigo Child.
Howl at the Moon – 20 E. Georgia St.
If you’re working your way through the downtown bar scene, Howl at the Moon is one place you don’t want to skip. This is a high-octane spot where you can rock with some of the finest music groups that Indy has to offer, grab cocktails with your friends and dance the night away. You’ll find cover bands, 80’s rock, 90’s grunge and just about every other genre of music under the sun — five nights of the week.
White Rabbit Cabaret – 1116 Prospect St.
If you want to spice up your life a little, why not check out the White Rabbit Cabaret? Another Fountain Square favorite, White Rabbit offers its own home-produced shows (like The Burlesque Bingo Bango Show and Lloyd & Harvey’s Wowie Zowie Show), dance nights with hosts like DJ Spellbound Darkwave and live shows by local musicians like Clark Beckham and I AM KAWEKI.
Hilbert Circle Theatre – 45 Monument Circle
If classic music and symphonies are your things, the Hilbert Circle Theatre has you covered! This historic venue built in the Neoclassical style has been hosting everything from vaudeville to jazz since 1916. Currently home to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the DeHaan Classical Series of concerts. There’s a wide range of shows from ABBAMANIA to Southern Accents: The Music of Tom Petty, so you’re bound to find something that thrills you.
Hoosier Dome – 1627 Prospect St.
Love the unpolished feel of an underground bar where you can dance right up to the stage when fine music is playing, but don’t particularly like what sometimes goes along with the underground bar scene? You’ll love Hoosier Dome, which has been drug-free and alcohol-free since 2011. Got a bestie or a sibling that’s still under 21 years of age? No problem! They’re welcome to come to the show at this age-inclusive venue.
Slippery Noodle Inn – 372 S. Meridian St.
The Slippery Noodle Inn has the distinction of being Indiana’s oldest bar and has been in continuous operation under one name or another in the same building since 1850! Currently considered the best spot in the area if you want to hear live blues and jazz, you’ll also find alternative artists like Big Daddy Caddy or Big Al & The Heavyweights headline the shows.
Radio Radio – 1119 E. Prospect
Another great spot located right in Fountain Square (just two doors down from the Fountain Square Theater), Radio Radio is one of those live music spots that locals know and cherish. It’s got an amazing sound system, a full bar, a retro-style lounge, making it the perfect place to kick back with friends or get up and dance to the band. Even better: Radio Radio goes out of its way to look for up-and-coming artists, so if you like being “in the know” about the hot talent that’s on the horizon, this is the place to go.
While these venues made the top of their list, more are likely to pop up soon as businesses slowly reopen their doors and get the acts lined up, so keep checking your favorite musical hotspot to learn more about what’s happening. After all, there’s always something exciting and new to see in Indy!