The L.A. musician with the Depression-era bowl cut and well-oiled warble played his brand of organ-tinged garage rock to a small but exuberant crowd. By turns danceable, pogo-tastic, and worthy of an old fashioned headbang, highlights of the evening included a cover of the Cramps' "Human Fly" (full disclosure: my heart belongs to anyone who covers the Cramps) and a jangly foot-stomper from his new record, "Family."
El Khatib hit all the right notes: snarling through "You Rascal You," crooning during "Dead Wrong." His voice seems to be made for rockabilly, with plenty of hiccups and growls shot through with outlaw charm. The guitar was crunchy, the rhythms thuddingly straightforward, the organ too spooky for church. This is rock that makes you want to crumple a can of Stag in your hand while performing the hand motions from "Greased Lightning."
El Khatib should probably score the next John Waters movie, or any movie with a mysterious hero who rolls his cigarette pack in his sleeves and drives a T-bird with a loud muffler. Check out his records, "Head in the Dirt" and "Will the Guns Come Out," and do yourself a favor: don't miss him the next time he swings through our fair city.
Overall, it was a good night for punk rockers, wearers of black and leather and motorcycle boots, drinkers of whiskey, and those who dance by throwing devil's horns. Oxford, Miss.'s Bass Drum of Death took to the stage following semi-local opening act Boreal Hills. BDD's power chord thrash sufficiently riled the audience, who formed a mosh pit and good-naturedly heckled the lead singer with chants of "Roll Tide!"