Guillermo Prieto/
Hanni El Khatib at Pappy and Harriet's. Credit: Guillermo Prieto/

Hanni El Khatib opened his Pappy and Harriet’s show on Friday, Jan. 16, with “Melt Me,” from his new release Moonlight.

It was a great way to start the show: The song got the Pappy and Harriet’s audience dancing to the beat while doppelgangers of Jesus Christ and Macaulay Culkin tried to ram through to the front of the stage, breaking the strict no-mosh rule. As a result, they made friends with no one: Everyone else just wanted to party to the reverberating Gibson held confidently in the hands of El Khatib.

El Khatib followed up with “Build. Destroy. Rebuild.” a strong tune with great emotive complexity from his debut 2011 release, Will the Guns Come Out. A hot admirer, wearing her best vampire look, looked on as her companion—wearing comic-book spaghetti-Western wear—absorbed every moment of the show.

The packed floor got wild as “You Rascal You” required everyone to dance along with El Khatib’s resonating, pure rock ’n’ roll vocals. The frenzy required bouncer Big Dave, who is the size of a sequoia, to position himself in the center of the audience to try to mellow things out.

Hanni featured “Dance Hall,” from Moonlight, which is his third album; the song was well received. Hanni commented: “For those of you asking for new shit, that was new shit.” He was interrupted by some drunk fan; El Khatib responded, “You should be banned from the bar.” Khatib later asked: “Everyone drinking as a team?” 

El Khatib later joined in the wildness when he decided to crowd-surf while playing his fuzzy electric guitar, which required him to squeeze between the heads of his fans and the low ceiling.

He mellowed out his set with the punky-blues song “Family,” from his sophomore album, Head in the Dirt, produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. That set the tone for the rest of his set.

A new song, “Two Brothers,” from his latest release, was the final song of El Khatib’s amazing performance. “This one is dedicated to my two uncles that passed away,” he said, leading into the jam about his father’s two brothers passing away back to back. With heartache, he sang, “I lost two brothers this year; I hope they died without fear, ’cause they know that I love them, put no one above them. I promise I’m near, with you in your hearts, even though you’re underground, I know that you have found peace, and it’s clear, just know that we love you, your brother still loves you, your mother she loves you, your children they love you, I hope that you know.”

It was a perfect closer to an amazing night.

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Guillermo Prieto

Guillermo Prieto is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine. That also happens to be the location of his first concert—which cemented his love of live music. A desert dweller for a quarter-century,...