Hanni El Khatib Shines in Local Performance
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 14:10
Getting to the Rock & Roll Hotel isn’t exactly the easiest journey to embark on, especially for Georgetown students. However, for Hanni El Khatib, the trip is definitely worth the effort. On Sunday Oct. 14, Hanni El Khatib and his band performed at the Rock & Roll Hotel, delivering a set that was both enrapturing and beautifully subtle with an emphasis on musicianship. However, before they took the small stage, the crowd enjoyed a loud, thumping performance from Oxford, Mississippi natives Bass Drum of Death.
With two guitarists, one drummer and the volume cranked as high as it would go, Bass Drum of Death brought the energy in the place up a notch. They played their southern garage rock sound and were able to keep their roughness intact. Even on a stage in an actual venue, they played like they were in someone’s garage, head banging and counting off to start songs included. It felt comfortable and intimate and it was a great way to start off the night.
Hanni El Khatib followed with his band — which included a bassist, guitarist and drummer —and dived straight into the set. El Khatib sung with vigor and concentration, and although he performed with a certain air of showmanship, he in no way sacrificed his singing or guitar playing. He played with such ease and grace that it was hard not to just stare at his fingers for some parts of the songs. His solos and improvisations of the music were wonderful additions.
The set involved songs from both of his two full-length releases as well as a couple of covers, including one of a Cramps song. El Khatib utilized dramatic pauses throughout the set to create a tense feel, which added an extra dimension to his set. It just goes to show the kind of arranging prowess he harnesses and is able to put to use not only in his recorded releases, but also on the road. It was the kind of set that kept everyone on their toes and even though tons of people in the crowd would scream out their song requests, El Khatib kept his composure and stuck to his plan. However, he was kind enough to grace the audience with an encore in which he played “House on Fire,” first by himself and then his band came out to join him about halfway through. It was a wonderful way to have the night end.
Overall, El Khatib and his band put on an interesting live show that focused more on the music than on the actual performance aspect. In the end, this worked out for them because they sounded absolutely amazing and Hanni’s natural showmanship was able to shine. Next time he is in town, no matter where he is playing, it will definitely be worth the trek.