Players: Sean Fortier, vocals, guitar; Cameron Black, saxophone, synth; Kylie Hazzard, bass; Cris Cornjeo, drums
Material: Gallagher’s Irish Pub and Grill in Huntington Beach is hosting crowd-less shows, live-streamed for our pleasure. It makes a welcome change from the multitude of solo acoustic musicians streaming from their living rooms during this pandemic and lockdown. As good as many of those have been, we’ve been craving the experience of watching a full band on a barroom stage. Of course, a stream on a Sunday afternoon, viewed from home, doesn’t offer the complete sights, sounds, and smells, but it’s a reasonable second-best. It helps that Echo Park band The Natural Supernatural has enough great songs to make up for the fact that we’re not sharing the same space. The sound is simultaneously gritty and full—a combination of bluesy rock and psychedelic funk with nods to Love and the Average White Band, heavily leaning towards Laurel Canyon- era Los Angeles. The opener “Dreamland” is a perfect example of that blend, while “Waiting” sees them dial-up their raw and poetic side.
Musicianship: Frontman Fortier is clearly the ringmaster—a wonderful guitarist who doesn’t sacrifice feel for intricacy, but is able to implement both effectively. Cornejo and Hazzard offer a solid rhythm section capable of some enjoyable flourishes. But the secret weapon is Black, whose sax breaks just add that little bit of strange. As a unit, it all works beautifully.
Performance: It’s very normal for the singer to be the focal point, but Fortier clearly loves these songs so much that it’s tough to rip your eyes away from him for a second. Despite the lack of a significant live crowd, he still plays around between songs—at one point, he says that he anthropomorphizes the sounds that his bandmates make with their instruments, adding voices. Good to know.
Summary: This Sunday stream offered proof that The Natural Supernatural is a band worth keeping an eye on, and also that Gallagher’s is offering some cool live-streamed shows. For now, this is the new normal. The best we can hope for is that venues are able to arrange for cool bands to innovate in this manner. And hopefully, bands and venues are able to monetize these events and survive. These are key weeks for the industry.