When Hanni El Khatib came to the stage Thursday night, The Sonics were booming through the Echo’s sound system and Hanni told the crowd he wanted to let the song run through before he started. No one seemed to reverence for the Sonics (though I love them), or maybe everyone was just too impatient to wait for him to start playing. With his hair slicked back, his jean jacket sleeves rolled up revealing arms covered in tattoos, called for the lights to be lowered, and under a blood-red glow he tore into “Garbage City.”
Backed only by drums, Hanni and his electric guitar roared through a short-but-ripping set, playing songs from his upcoming album, Will The Guns Come Out, and a few covers. He performed an ferocious interpretation of the old jazz standard “You Rascal You,” off his first 7,” and the surprising but awesome choice of Kelis’ “Millionaire,” since “no set is complete without a little Kelis.” When Hanni plays covers he doesn’t just play someone else’s song; he strips them down til they’re barely recognizable and become his own. I wonder how many people would have recognized the song as Kelis’ if he hadn’t clued everyone in.
Hanni’s blend of garage rock, soul, and blues is everything I like in music boiled down to its rawest minimum. He writes songs written for “anyone who’s ever been shot or hit by a train” and wields a guitar like a weapon, brutally tearing each song down to its core. I cannot wait for Will The Guns Come Out—this is going to be one of the best records of 2011, guaranteed.
Local favorites Vanaprasta followed, a five-piece band from Silver Lake that loves “geometry, darkness, LCD Soundsystem, and the Big Lebowksi.” The Echo show was a celebration of their two-year anniversary as a band and was filled with friends and fans sharing this special night in Vanaprasta history. Those who were unfamiliar with the band are sure to be new converts, as I heard whispers of “who are these guys?” Fast and furious guitar riffs, pulsating rhythms, soaring vocals, and a lot of hair whipping around made for an energetic show.
They too played an unexpected cover: Kanye West’s “Runaway.” I’m no Kanye fan, but I have to admit to enjoying the cover. It was pretty funny, and the crowd loved it.
Watch video of their “Runaway” cover here:
— Lainna Fader