It may have been awarded the title Australia’s Best Bartenders’ Bar last year, but for most people, Melbourne’s Hats & Tatts is very much a neighbourhood bar (albeit one that the others neighbourhood bars warn you about).
Following in the style of American-style sports or dive bar, Hats & Tatts themselves believe they are first and foremost, a bar that is there to serve their locals. And the devotion of their clientele to very much a testament to that.
“The warnings are usually just exaggerations of nights spent having TOO much fun and regretting it the next day,” explains bar manager, Josh Nicolson. “We live to make the customer feel like this could be the biggest party ever, even if it is Wednesday.”
And Nicolson believes that creating that atmosphere is about fostering an immersive experience for customers that flows from service all the way through to the music that they play.“Walking into your favourite bar after a shitty day and hearing the most epic banger can absolutely be a mood flipper.”
Cultivating that vibe, Nicolson describes a night that could start with music like Tupac before taking a soft left into some older punk tunes, via Cypress Hill before it detours from The Beastie Boys into Rage Against The Machine.
“We have a base H&T Playlist which will spit out everything from Iron Maiden, Wu-Tang Clan, Paul Simon or Prince to a My Chemical Romance singalong,” explained Nicolson, “but it needs curation to maximise the energy.
In talking about the value of music in a venue, Nicolson describes a situation where maybe the device has dies or the power goes off; an example that seems to closely mirror what has happened to bars since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic.
“There’s an awkward silence as everyone waits for the power to come back on,” he explain.”The “I don’t know” face shared from different sides of the room, and how awkward that first date just got without a soundtrack to fill in their failing small talk.
‘That is how important music is to bars. It creates a socially uninhibited environment where we as humans can feel less awkward about how weird hanging out with other humans is.”
Sp, until that time when the ‘power gets turned back on’ for all us, why not fill the silence of your isolation just as they would do it at Hats & Tatts.
If you want more music from the bar, go to their official playlist here.