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14 Dec 2016

Live: Hanni El Khatib at Pappy and Harriet's, Dec. 9

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Hanni El Khatib. Hanni El Khatib. Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net

Hanni El Khatib surveyed the stage prior to his Friday-night show at Pappy and Harriet’s. He checked his guitar pedals as two fans from Ventura County asked me if a glass jar on the stage was a spittoon. I said no, that it was a tip jar.

El Khatib overheard the exchange, looked at us and pointed toward the jar. “Fill that up!” he said in jest.

El Khatib did his part by selling out the show, in support of his anticipated new record, Savage Times, slated for release in February, and produced by Crystal Antlers’ leader Jonny Bell. This was the second time he had played at Pappy and Harriet’s—but I suspect, based on the audience’s reaction to the show, it will not be his last.

El Khatib opened with “Baby’s OK,” walking straight into the audience and singing most of the song in the middle of the crowd. He followed up with “Gonna Die Alone”; both songs were released earlier this year through Innovative Leisure Records.

There were lots of faces familiar from last year’s show by El Khatib—and people were ready to dance. You can’t blame the crowd for unleashing pent-up energy with songs like “You Rascal You,” a crowd favorite. A young music fan drank Hanni in as she listened intently, never moving from her spot, upfront stage right. Big Dave, the bouncer, kept things calm, ejecting two moshers at the same time, one in each of his arms. But other than a few aggressive dancers, this was a very fun show.

The star introduced loads of new material, including the defiant “No Way,” from the forthcoming album. It’s a song about gentrification—families being pushed out of neighborhoods. “We going nowhere even if we are chased, and it’s true. … We got no money, but we sure got our pride, and they can’t take that away from us cuz we’re still alive.”

El Khatib dedicated “Till Your Rose Comes Home,” released earlier this month, to his gay uncle; it’s a very sad, fuzzy, rocky gem with a minimalist approach straight from the heart.

Hanni left the stage and came back for a two-song encore, closing with the fast and furious “Family,” from the Dan Auerbach-produced album Head in the Dirt, which got a biker-looking dude dancing next to a gorgeous Annie Lennox-inspired L.A. transplant.

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