Best Venues to Watch Local Bands in Indianapolis

Indianapolis has a bright, vibrant and diverse music scene. But where are the best places to catch a local band? Circle City Deacons' Dan Oberg (yes, my brother) lists the following five places as the best venues to watch local bands in Indianapolis.

Melody Inn

One of the oldest bars in Indianapolis, Melody Inn was established as a piano bar in 1935. The Mel is located in the historic Butler-Tarkington neighborhood and hosts a variety of acts--Wikipedia reports that an estimated 7000 musical acts have performed there since 2001. Every Saturday night is Punk Rock Night, and Nuvo named it best venue for punks in the city. Melody Inn also has an award-winning jukebox, a pool table, and a MegaTouch machine. Cover charges are generally reasonable, and parking is free.

The Mousetrap

What can you say about a bar that literally has to tighten the light bulbs before a show? The Mousetrap is a bar that has plenty to do even without the music--20+ TVs, 4 pool tables, ping-pong, video games, dart boards, and several board games, according to the website. But this is about music, and this place has plenty of it. Sundays are for bluegrass. Tuesdays are for jazz and soul. Thursdays--well, you might get dubstep, or you might get ska. The Trap has it all, including a famous beef stew.

Radio Radio

Located in the heart of Fountain Square, Radio Radio has a small dance floor for those who gotta dance with somebody, with somebody who loves me. The website describes the bar as a "music boutique" and warns that shows often sell out, so buy tickets in advance (cash only for tickets purchased in person). There is ample seating and plenty of standing room before the stage. The bar is smoke-free, but there is a smoking area out back. This is where you're most likely to see the next big band as well as local favorites.

The Hi Fi

Also located in Fountain Square, The Hi Fi has a diverse selection of craft beer (including local favorite Sun King), wine, and spirits. "Our eclectic schedule shows that we don't really focus on one kind of music, just as long as it's REALLY good," the website reads. "We're all music fanatics and love that idea of watching our favorite band in an intimate setting, all with incredible sound." Shows often sell out, so buy your tickets early (all major credit cards accepted). Seating is limited and the venue sometimes gets hot (insert Disco Inferno joke here)--it's an old building with a finicky air conditioner. Ear plugs are for sale at the bar.


The CIA of Indianapolis music--by which I mean the elite of the elite--Birdy's is, above all, a dedicated live music venue that happens to serve local, domestic, and imported alcohol. Open since 2000, past acts include Prince (don't get started with that "the artist formerly known as" crap), Zac Brown Band, Reverend Horton Heat, Five for Fighting, The Samples (who remember the first time they drove through Indiana), and The Donnas (with special guest William Shatner). Birdy's is home to the hottest musical acts in Indianapolis, and rivals Deer Creek (sorry, Klipsch) as a venue for national acts.

Becky Oberg is a professional writer who has lived in Indianapolis on and off for nearly thirty years. She enjoys acting, cooking, playing video games, singing, and writing. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and on her blog, One Woman and a Laptop.

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