Hanni El Khatib Meets Dan Auerbach – Part Three
This is the third and final installment discussing Hanni El Khatib’s new album, the influence of Dan Auerbach on it and the wonders of live music. If you need to catch up, check out parts one and two.
by Mat Weir
Khatib was the first on stage, strutting his Greaser look—which looked out of place surrounded by his new band made up of long-haired hippies—said, “Hello” and blasted into the first two songs off the new album: “Head in the Dirt” and “Family.” The bassist more than made up for the electro-dance beat on the recording of the title track and dropped a thunderstorm of rhythm upon the audience that I wasn’t ready for.
With “Family,” Khatib sped up the tempo and continued the show with twice the speed of the album, breathing new life into each track. On songs like “Nobody Move” (an homage to ’77 rock, about armed robbery, complete with reggae beat and a punk chorus) and “Sinking in the Sand,” each band member would terrorize the music, pounding out each note with such ferocity I couldn’t believe they were the same songs I had listened to earlier. These tracks were fresh with rage and Khatib tore through each like a rabid caracal on his first blood high, straight for the jugular with lust in his eyes.
Eighty-five percent of his set was from Head in the Dirt, but the songs he chose to play off Guns were all on my bucket list. “Build. Destroy. Rebuild.” was on my soundtrack last year during a horrible period in my life and I screamed the lyrics so loudly by the time he played “Fuck it, You Win” I could only rasp out the chorus.
Khatib, on the other hand, was screaming to the gods of breakups and heartache, sacrificing himself so that others may learn and live. 50’s bubblegum diddy, “Dead Wrong” filled the ether with a serenade of doo-woppy “Waaaa-oooooo-oo-oooo” and he couldn’t pass up ending the Gun revisit with “Garbage City,” his declaration of love for San Francisco.
Half-way through The Black Angels’ set, when I was trying to figure out where my hallucinations were coming from (remember kids: 2 days of no sleep + weed + psychedelic music = cheap fun!) I passed the joint to my friend, Chelsea—so lost in spacey drone of the band she burned her hand on the marijuana embers without notice. The herbal incense danced around the Fillmore’s alter when I realized this really is what it’s all about.
Live shows are just a metaphor for life: you have to be there to experience it. No recording, book, picture, movie or video game can ever give you the thirst of life. If you don’t go out and DO, you’ll never have the grit of satisfaction under your nails. Life becomes entertainment instead of action, and one’s essence is suffocated underneath the greasy production. Actions baptize us with the fire of living, which burns away the fake bullshit of the world to reveal a raw, fleshy truth–scared and wild, free to run amok and deranged enough to tear apart anyone who tries to stifle it again. I was baptized in this fire, and no longer can I keep my head in the dirt about this record. Instead, I’ll just play it at full volume and anxiously wait for the next congregation with a toothy grin.