SAN FRANCISCO — Former Bay Area native Hanni El Khatib stopped by The Chapel Friday night and brought along his usual strapping attitude to produce a lively atmosphere. The former Dan Auerbach collaborator just released his latest album, Savage Times. Khatib was headlining a showcase of artists signed to Los Angeles record label Innovative Leisure (of which he’s a part-owner). Luckily for Friday’s crowd, all three bands brought their A-game.
The Molochs opened their set with the mellow “I Don’t Love You.” Vocalist Lucas Fitzsimons’ dishevelled swagger underscored the 1960s garage and psychedelic rock influences that the band exudes. Fitzsimons displayed his harmonica skills while performing “No More Cryin,’” seamlessly switching back and forth between vocal duties.
Although The Buttertones were a supporting act, judging from their performance you’d think they were headlining the show. Set highlight “Orpheus Under The Sun” perfectly encapsulated what made The Buttertones such a captivating live act. Whether it’s the infectious enthusiasm of frontman Richard Araiza or the dynamic drumming of Modesto Cobian, the group’s collective effort made for a mesmerizing experience.
Amid a night full of great performances, Hanni El Khatib was also able to make his memorable. Khatib emerged from backstage to the sound of aggressive drumming that would’ve been at home at a metal show. Unfortunately, his band did seem to have some issues with the sound coming from the keys, but it was a minor issue that was solved promptly.
Khatib fed off the energy of his bandmates as he roamed the stage, at one point putting himself back-to-back with his bassist. The performance’s backdrop was made up of a surreal patchwork of old cartoons and news broadcasts. Khatib was more than happy to oblige with an encore. It’s also when the crooner exhibited his best display of showmanship. Before finishing his last song he leapt down from the stage to join the crowd in one last hurrah of the night. Khatib remained unfazed as he pushed and played his way through the floor.
Having your supporting acts come out and perform remarkable sets can be an intimidating scenario for a headliner; however, Hanni El Khatib was able to rise to the occasion and impress.
Follow reporter Hector Aguilar at Twitter.com/HectorJ_Aguilar.