No matter what genre, space, or acoustics you’re looking for, Indy has a live music venue that fits the bill. Thanks to our central location, Indianapolis is visited by many touring musicians, and the city boasts lots of unique locations to see them play. From theatres with Egyptian architecture to bars with country line dancing, each of these venues offer an unforgettable experience for all music lovers.
In these unprecedented times, we’re all missing the joys of live music. Indiana Independent Venue Alliance is a local nonprofit organization that empowers and preserves Indiana’s live music community. Check out their site here to support some of the venues (and more) on this list as they sit empty waiting for their next crowd-filled performance: https://www.indianavenuealliance.org/
Here are Indianapolis’ top live music venues (in our opinion):
1. Old National Centre
Old National Centre is one of Indianapolis’ busiest live music venues, located in the heart of downtown Indy’s Mass Ave Arts District. Entering the building through the Grand Lobby feels like walking into an extravagant, vintage theater. The performing arts theatre in the building, The Murat Theatre, is the oldest stage house downtown. The grand stage can accommodate Broadway shows or solo performers, while still making every audience member feel like they’re getting a full, immersive experience. Equally impressive is the Egyptian room, which holds up to 2,000 people and is filled with Middle Eastern decor. And just a quick insider’s tip, be sure to arrive early! This standing room only space is energy-packed from front to back but allows for some close up views if you get there early enough. Old National Centre offers year round shows from the hottest artists, comedians, and musicals with around 300 a year!
In the past, it has covered every end of the spectrum with the likes of Maggie Rogers, Playboi Carti, and Wicked the Musical. Here’s a list of some past shows at Old National Centre. https://www.jambase.com/venue/murat-theatre-old-national-centre/past-shows
502 N New Jersey St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, USA
2. The Vogue
In 1977 The Vogue converted from a movie theatre to a nightclub, and they haven’t looked back since. This venue is one of the most iconic in Indy, and it has hosted big time headliners including Johnny Cash, Snoop Dogg, and John Mayer. The open space and multiple floors make it an ideal location for visiting musicians to grace the stage. When they’re not showcasing some of the biggest artists in the world, they’re also ranked as the #1 nightclub in Indy and spin all of the best dance hits. Regardless of whether you’re visiting here on the night of a big event or just a regular Wednesday evening, The Vogue promises a night full of dancing and great tunes.
Check out their website to see a detailed timeline of The Vogue’s interesting history from 1938 movie theatre to the nightclub it is today: https://thevogue.com/about-us/
6259 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220, USA
3. The Rathskeller
The Rathskeller Restaurant and Biergarten hosts Indianapolis’ best local bands for live shows every Wednesday through Saturday. The lineup spans across all genres but is always sure to be a crowd-pleaser. The upbeat atmosphere coupled with a view of the Indy skyline makes this an ideal spot for Indy residents looking for a date night or a friend adventure. The indoor and outdoor beer hall is spacious enough for everyone to dance along, get drinks, and mingle with one another. When you’ve danced enough, be sure to stop inside and sample some of the authentic German menu (we recommend the stuffed mushrooms). There are not many places you can get such a Bavarian flair in downtown Indy.
Here’s their menu to peruse if the words “loaded fries” or “German chocolate cake” interest you at all: https://rathskeller.com/menus/ What could be better than schnitzel, an extensive German beer list, and live, local music?
401 E. Michigan St, The Athenaeum Building Indianapolis, IN 46204, USA
4. Melody Inn
If you’re interested in a bit more of a hard edge, the Melody Inn has some lineups you’re sure to approve of. Every Saturday night is Punk Rock Night here, and even the weekday performers usually stick to heavy metal or rock genres. Many artists come here to debut their original works, so you can be sure the experience you’re getting is one-of-a-kind. When you need something to occupy yourself with, the retro bar has a pool table, an old school Ms. Pac-Man game, and an outdoor tiki lounge. The Melody Inn is a great place to find authentic music lovers and discover new performers.
Punk Rock Night continues to rage on throughout the shutdown for the safety of our community. You can check out video streams of PGN Live here: http://www.punkrocknight.com/wp/
3826 N Illinois St, Indianapolis, IN 46208, USA
For those looking for more of an intimate feel, Hi-Fi is the spot for you. While only seating up to 400 people, it makes up for its size with high energy performances and great acoustics. This eclectic spot in Fountain Square often draws in both up-and-coming artists as well as experienced veterans like The Lumineers. Fortunately for its dedicated concert-goers, Hi-Fi puts on live music shows six to seven times a week. The unique space has also been known to host art shows and other special events. If you stop by here, be ready to get up close and personal with the artist. And expect to sweat – that’s the beauty of sharing a small and high-energy space jam-packed with other Indy music lovers.
If you’re missing Hi-Fi’s unique lineups, they’re currently offering some livestreams and archives of previous shows on their site to bring their sound right to your home. Check these shows out here: https://mokbpresents.com/live/
1043 Virginia Ave #4, Indianapolis, IN 46203, USA
6. The Amphitheater at White River State Park
The Amphitheater at White River makes a name for itself with its breathtaking view of Indianapolis. The grass amphitheater is tucked along the White River in downtown Indy and showcases the city lights. On top of the views, this venue hosts many of the biggest tours in music in their summer concert series. Pack your favorite blanket and lawn chair, and you’re in for the perfect summer night. And not that this is important, but we think the beautiful views and scenery make this an ideal spot for your next photo-op!
White River is in the process of redesigning the Amphitheater to make the venue even better for its audiences. Check out the changes here: http://axisarch.com/2020/02/amphitheater-white-river-state-park/
801 W. Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, USA
7. The Slippery Noodle Inn
The Slippery Noodle Inn has been praised as one of the top blues clubs in the nation by the likes of Rolling Stone. If that’s not incentive enough, this spot makes history as Indiana’s oldest bar. It has quite the mysterious backstory with rumors that it used to be a hotspot for mobsters or a watering hole during Prohibition. While we cannot confirm nor deny these claims, we can tell you that it makes for a great night of music and drinks today. It has even been visited by celebrities like Robert DeNiro or Jimmy Fallon. The building has two stages to roam between, weekly drink specials, and some of the best blues performances you will ever experience. Pro tip: if you ask nicely, the staff is known to give tours of the building’s historic hidden tunnels or tiny back rooms.
We could go on for days about the deep history and prominent patrons of this establishment. If you’d like to learn more about The Slippery Noodle’s past, their website makes a pretty good summary: http://www.slipperynoodle.com/history.php
372 S Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46225, USA
8. 8 Seconds Saloon
When you’re looking to move around a little, 8 Seconds Saloon offers an excellent venue for just that. The building used to be a bowling alley until it was converted into what it is today: the largest dance floor in the Midwest. Every Wednesday night, 8 Seconds Saloon offers free dance lessons to all patrons. Not only are there some of the best country acts headlining throughout the week, but audiences can take a break from line dancing for a spin on a mechanical bull. If you’re looking for a taste of Nashville on your next night out, 8 Seconds Saloon perfectly combines great music, great drinks, and great times.
Want to practice your moves before stopping in? Here’s a list of their most common dances along with the songs that accompany them: http://8secondssaloon.net/site/index.php/our-dances/
111 N. Lynhurst Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46224, USA
9. The Cabaret
This place is pretty much exactly what its name claims. Picture draping chandeliers, enclosed booths, and a small stage with a lone piano and a vocalist. In this dimly-lit room, not a single seat in the house is more than five rows from the stage. The intimate atmosphere of a cabaret show allows for visiting Broadway stars to really interact with the audience and improvise how they please. For serious music fans who appreciate the beauty of musical theatre and jazz standards, there’s really nowhere else you can get this kind of experience. Plus, you can get craft cocktails and dinner brought to your table during the show. When you feel like getting dressed up and pretending you’re in Old Hollywood, The Cabaret is sure to please.
Are you interested in being a performer yourself? Along with their traditional programming, they also offer master classes and speaker series for aspiring young artists. Check out some of these here: https://www.thecabaret.org/education/
924 N Pennsylvania St Suite B, Indianapolis, IN 46204, USA
In closing: The Indy area has all kinds of unique offerings when it comes to live music venues. On top of these smaller, more independent venues we’ve listed, Indianapolis also has some larger and more traditional venues. Bankers Life Fieldhouse is home to the Indiana Pacers and doubles as a stage for the world’s biggest mega-stars like Lady Gaga and Billy Joel. If you’re looking for outdoors, Ruoff Music Center has a high-profile summer lineup and an 18,000 seat general admission lawn. Happy concert-going!
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