January 19th, 2015 | Photos

Hanni El Khatib @ Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace #26
Photos and words by Leslie Kalohi
A honky-tonk shrouded in total darkness, found by driving a few miles off Highway 62 in Yucca Valley, seemed to be an unlikely choice for Hanni El Khatib to debut new material off his upcoming album Moonlight. But Pappy and Harriet’s no-frills, casual setting of clinking beer bottles and mason jars created the perfect showcase for El Khatib’s new, slinky tracks.
While Hanni El Khatib started the set with Moonlight’s “Melt Me” and also deftly handled a smart-aleck heckler shouting for new material after just playing new song “Dance Hall, the set surprisingly gave equal attention to previous releases Will the Guns Come Out and Head in the Dirt.
The energy in the room simmered with favorites “Nobody Move” and “You Rascal You” before finally boiling over during El Khatib’s signature barn buster, “Pay No Mind.” With no real barrier between the low stage and fans, all Hanni El Khatib had to do was take a couple of steps forward and lean back to be completely consumed by the crowd. Fans quickly hoisted El Khatib above their shoulders as he played out the rest of the song. El Khatib gave fans the “green light” to really let loose, and the equally frenetic “Family” closed out a raucous main set.
The encore of Moonlight’s title track and the impressive, extended jam of “Two Brothers” nicely cooled down the crowd before sending everyone off into the desert night. Hanni El Khatib will return to LA as he opens for Dr. Dog at both the Wiltern on February 13th and Fox Theater Pomona on February 14th.
LA-based Korey Dane’s notable opening set showcased his earnest but gentle voice, leaving an indelible mark on beguiling songs like “You’ll Be Had” and “Little Dream.”