Here's a bit about some of our favorite places to grab the mic in Indianapolis. The next page has comprehensive listings of all manner of karaoke hotspots. Please note that bar schedules change frequently.
The Monkey's Tale
10 p.m. The Monkey's Tale loves to tout that they were featured as NUVO's number one place to sing in Indianapolis the last time we went around and quantified the karaoke scene. They're definitely the coziest, tucked away off the main Broad Ripple strip, and they attract a lively crowd of Indy's best singers. Their Monkey Idol contest is still in full swing for at least the next few weeks, where for a $3 entry you can slug it out to win $100 and an entry for the February Main Event contest worth $1,000. But bring your A-game, because the singers here come to play. If contests aren't your thing, they have open karaoke on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, along with Karaoke Wheel of Fortune on Wednesdays: Spin the wheel, find your genre! Drinks are reasonably priced by Broad Ripple standards, and they have daily drink specials. Most nights start at 10 p.m., and they stay open well into the wee hours.
925 N. Westfield Blvd.
9 p.m. Olly's has history that runs deep in Indy, dating back to the days where gay bars had to operate in the dark, figuratively and literally. Now they're the best 24-hour diner / gay sports bar / karaoke lounge in the city, as you can experience for yourself on Wednesdays and Sundays at 9 p.m. each week, as well as on Saturdays after the weekly drag show. They have the best drink prices in town ($2 domestics and well drinks), so you can get in plenty of liquid courage without emptying your bank account. There's nowhere else in town where you can sing, eat a full diner breakfast and drink $2 shots of house tequila – and where you'll be a regular by your second visit.
822 W. Illinois St.
10 p.m. At Metro, you can enjoy a full nightclub experience upstairs, or on Tuesdays and Thursdays stay on the ground floor for karaoke led by Chris Van Sickle (Smiley Morning Show). It is a small karaoke space, so get there early if you want to sing more than one song, but once the place gets crowded it won't matter how many you've sung, you'll be dancing and singing along with everyone else too. Karaoke starts at 10 p.m. and continues until they shut the place down. Drinks are reasonably priced, including $6 domestic pitchers the nights I was there. And their selection of songs is very up to date, including Taylor Swift's "Blank Space," if that's your jam.
707 Massachusetts Ave.
10 p.m. Tuesday night is karaoke night at the Hi-Fi, where for one night of the week, everyday folks can take the stage and pretend we've got rock star moves while a crowd of Fountain Square regulars cheer you on. Karaoke starts at 10 p.m, but when I was there, the place really didn't get jumping until around 11:30 p.m. So if you like to sing get there early so you can get a couple in before the list gets really long. Drink prices are reasonable for beers, and they're known for their extensive whiskey selection. Bonus: It's way easier to find the Hi-Fi now that they're in new first-floor digs.
1043 Virginia Ave.
Dear John's Pub
8 p.m. This laid-back Eastside venue brings together a down-home atmosphere, affordable food and drinks and a quiet group of regulars who simply love to sing. The clientele skews a lot older than the likes of Metro or Monkey's Tale, but if you really like to sing get here at 8 p.m. and you'll have more than you can handle by the time they close on Thursdays. Or use Dear John's as your start to a great karaoke crawl, hitting some of the more crowded downtown spots later. There's plenty of parking in a well-lit, video-monitored lot, so you don't have to worry about your car while you're sitting at a table contemplating which Guns 'n' Roses song you want to sing.
7941 E. 30th St.
Peppers Brew Garden & Eatery
10 p.m. Another place you might visit on your way to another more crowded karaoke bar, Peppers offers you a chance to sing on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 p.m. The DJ has a wide selection of songs, and is as capable of having as good a time as any members of his audience. They stay open until 3 a.m. seven days a week, but if you're still needing to sober up, they're conveniently located across the street from an IHOP. Peppers isn't the place to take your vegetarian friends, unless they want a house salad. But if you're into burgers and wings and love singing, this may be your new favorite hangout spot.
9105 E. 56th St.
8:30 p.m. Karaoke at Zonie's is a weekly Sunday event. And the karaoke DJ is certifiably old school, the only one I've found so far in Indianapolis who exclusively uses a large book of available songs, and who plays said songs off CDs. But his selection is extensive, and sometimes it can be fun to browse through a songbook and find something off the beaten path. Drink prices are affordable ($3 beers, $10 fishbowls the night I was there) but make sure you bring cash, or prepare to bite the bullet on ATM fees. Karaoke starts at 8:30 p.m., and by midnight the place had a respectable crowd and a long list of waiting singers.
1446 E. Washington St.