Hackney Attic is a bar and live music venue plonked on the top floor of the popular Hackney Picturehouse. Offering a fairly eclectic programme, it looks to join the dots between film buffs, music lovers and culture vultures, with events that span film quizzes, comedy and cabaret, and more traditional club fare.
The Picturehouse is spread across Hackney’s beautiful former central library (built in 1906) and from the outside the complex is a formidable stately pile. As ever though, it’s best not to judge a book by its cover - head to the Attic on the top floor and little of the exterior’s grandeur is evident. Instead you’re greeted with a slender, somewhat utilitarian room with a bar at one end and a small stage at the other. The lights are often unforgivingly bright and there’s little décor-wise to distract from whatever is taking place on stage.
What the Attic lacks in style it makes up for in vibe. On a good night the venue’s no frills approach lends itself to some fine, unpretentious drinking, dancing and laughing. With the programme ranging from folk showcases to stand up events, the atmosphere is very much dependent on the event – the Attic doesn’t really have any walk-up clientele, and as such, the people in the building specifically want to be there. The plus side of this is an often knowledgeable, friendly and involved crowd. On the downside, it can feel like an exclusive club if you wander in off the street without any idea what’s going on. A quick check of the listings beforehand will give you a clue as to whether it’s going to be a nerd heaven for sci-fi obsessives or a bobbing dance floor of gypsy cabaret fanatics.
The soundsystem in the Attic isn’t the best – if you’re looking for ultra-loud dance music with reverberating bass, you’re probably in the wrong place. However, as the venue does cater for niche crowds, those with esoteric tastes will often find sounds seldom catered to in the mainstream.
Hackney’s been on the up and up over the last decade, and the drinks prices in the Attic reflect this. With a reasonably stocked bar running the usual selection of beers and spirits, and a pint coming in at just under £4, the bar does all the necessary (if not much more).
The Last Word
As a venue, the Attic isn’t going to win any prizes for appearance. It’s a pretty basic affair that does the job. However, it more than compensates for any sartorial inelegance with a strong timetable of events attended by a dedicated, clued-up crowd. Add in the high quality multi-screen cinema downstairs and you’ve got a one-stop shop for a culturally rich Saturday night.