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Concert review: We The Sea Lions at M Lounge

We The Sea Lions

M Lounge, 835 Foch St., Fort Worth

817-850-9900; www.mfortworth.com

Posted 11:01am on Wednesday, Aug. 01, 2012

The M Lounge -- I'd seen it from the road but never really knew what it was. Still don't, really, but I spent last Saturday night there. It's a bar, obviously, but the vibe is a bit more elegant than most of the dives I crawl through to hear live music. Kind of like a nice living room with couches, tables and lots of mirrors. (Too many, for me. If I wanted to see what I looked like, I'd go to Sea World.)

Speaking of which, I was there to see We The Sea Lions, a local band that just won a Panthy (Fort Worth Weekly Music Award) for best new artist. As I walked in, they were setting up on a small corner stage and I was able to grab a comfortable stool right in front. The band consists of Jonathan Badillo (guitar, vocals), Trevor Maher (drums), Brian McKittrick (bass), Joshua Badillo (guitar, vocals) and Benny Rodriguez (keyboard). Joshua and Brian had to set up off stage; it's a pretty small space.

These guys have a pretty wet but hard-edged vibe to them. The guitars were effective, providing structure and kind of a sea-wall of sound. If you're looking for flashy, cheesy guitar solos, this isn't that band, but if you want to hear some genuine songwriting skills you won't be disappointed. I particularly liked the keyboard work of Rodriguez. It had a nice distorted, percussive quality to it rather than drawn out pads that would have turned everything to mush. But the drum stood out probably the most. A lot more snare than I expected, and it really worked with this band.

The sound and lighting at M Lounge are better than I expected in such a small venue, other than vocals being too low in the mix.

You could tell someone was singing, but you couldn't necessarily make out what they were singing. Fortunately, We The Sea Lions can more than carry a show just through force of their instrumentals.

Headlining the show Saturday was the legendary Sally Majestic. I've been watching these guys play forever, and they never disappoint. I don't think that it's possible to be in a bad mood listening to their funky blend of rock and reggae, so I keep their CD in my car for when I have to drive in Arlington. Sally Majestic consists of PJ Fry (bass, vocals), Scott Vernon (guitar, vocals), John Stevens (guitar, backing vocals) and Tim Cowdin (drums). These guys have been making Funkytown a better place for 11 years now.

Neither band has upcoming shows listed, but keep an eye on their Facebook pages for updates.

And keep an eye on M Lounge, not a bad little venue when you're looking for something less dive-ish for your live-music consumption.

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