You’ve done it! You’ve reached the back of the book, which means you’ve just got best bands and best spots to drink and dance the night away left. Disclaimer, before you get into this music section: We believe there’s nothing more personal than music taste, which means you may disagree heartily with what some of your fellow Hoosiers voted into the top slots in Best of Indy this year. But instead of getting TwitterMad, why not queue up Musical Family Tree and listen to somebody you don’t know on this list instead? There’s a lot of great music to be found in the Circle City, and we’re proud to include your faves this year. Below, a couple of my faves, including a spot to grab a beer before the show and the biggest, teariest show we’ve seen all year.
Best local place to pop a tent — Sleepy Bear Campground
This campground situated outside of Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center hosts people putting up tents for two-day Dave Matthews Band weekends, but it’s a great place to camp out before any show.
Best place to grab a beer before a show — The Chatterbox
Most shows at Indy’s big golden shrine theater kick off around 7:30; head to the Chatterbox at 6:30 and you’re almost guaranteed a spot on the patio. Throw one back before the opener’s set and you can scurry across the street without missing a second.
Best almost-full-bearded bartender to get a drink from before a show — Jake at Pure
Heading to a show at Hi-Fi or Pioneer and you need a friend because you’re riding solo? Get yourself to Pure and talk to/at Jake as he serves you a $2 PBR! You’re never alone sitting at his bar because you’ll likely be watching a ‘this has to be on TBS’ movie y’all both haven’t seen in years. Burly man or teddy bear? Consider him Fountain Square’s Teddy Ruxpin. (Jessie Davis)
Best absolutely gigantic show it seems like everyone and their neighbor attended —U2 at Lucas Oil Stadium
Did we start crying when the opening thrums of “Where The Streets Have No Name?” reverberated through the massive space? Of course we did. And so did everyone you know, too. U2’s almost-sold-out show in Indy inspired a moment of mass social media uniting in early September. Sure, we’re almost always about supporting local, but for a second these Irish gents made us believe gigantic stadium shows are the only way to live.
Best cocktail bar that evolved into a political gathering place — Thunderbird
The Fountain Square bar hosted many a debate watch party and other gatherings for Indy Dems. We’re honestly still crying about the election, so it remains a good place to drown your sorrows and remember a pre-2017 world that felt so much simpler.
Best place to accidentally run into NUVO’s drinks editor Cavan McGinsie — Rook
Here’s the thing about Cavan: He likes a lot of food. And a lot of drinks. But the place he says is “hands down his favorite in the city” is Fletcher Place’s pan-Asian hotspot Rook. Come for the Rook Dog, stay for long conversations about why Patrick Rothfuss will never finish trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicles. (Curse you, Patrick!)