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Punk group relishes role as celebrity Rays fans

From left: Drew Thomsen, Hunter Thomsen, Travis Clark and Danny Duncan of We the Kings.

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From left: Drew Thomsen, Hunter Thomsen, Travis Clark and Danny Duncan of We the Kings.

Among the side benefits of the Tampa Bay Rays' success this season: We the Kings to got to talk a lot of trash on the Warped Tour.

The Bradenton band wore customized Rays jerseys during their down time this summer, and could play the "We're in first!" card whenever groups like Four Year Strong (fans of the Red Sox), Just Surrender (Yankees) and Story of the Year (Cardinals) felt like talking baseball.

"It was like, 'Hey, the Rays are doing pretty incredible this season. What's your team doing?' And they couldn't say anything back," said singer Travis Clark. "It was awesome."

The Rays may not have many celebrity fans (there's Dick Vitale, Hulk Hogan and ... um ... give us a minute ...) but the up-and-coming pop-punks are eager to show their hometown team some love. They're performing after Saturday's Rays-Orioles game at the Trop, the finale to the team's hugely successful season-long concert series.

We the Kings are a surprisingly with-it choice to close the series, which has featured artists like Loverboy, MC Hammer and Kool and the Gang. The band performed this summer on Jimmy Kimmel Live and FNMTV, and their hit single Check Yes, Juliet is steadily climbing the Billboard pop and rock charts.

When it comes to the Rays, We the Kings are no bandwagon fans. Growing up and playing Little League together in Bradenton, the guys often drove across the Skyway to games.

"Just from walking into the stadium and just seeing it, feeling the actual field, is really incredible," said Clark, a couple of hours after getting a tour of the stadium and taking batting practice. "I would definitely say that this is easily the biggest venue we've played, easily it's the most people we've ever played in front of."

The group have long been sports fans. Clark played youth soccer and swears he once kicked a 55-yard field goal. Guitarist Hunter Thomsen threw a no-hitter in Little League. Drummer Danny Duncan scored goals during an inter-band Warped Tour soccer tournament. And bassist Drew Thomsen covets a bike owned by The Academy Is... drummer Andy Mrotek.

The Rays have won each game that features a concert, from Trace Adkins to LL Cool J. But We the Kings doesn't seem too worried about keeping the Rays' concert-night streak alive.

"They're not losing," said Hunter Thomsen.

"They play the Orioles," Duncan added dismissively.

As the pennant race heats up, the pressure will build. Come October, We the Kings will embark on a co-headlining tour with The Academy Is..., who happen to be huge Chicago Cubs fans.

If the Rays and Cubs meet in the World Series, the punk rock trash talk should heat up once more.

Rays vs. Orioles

We the Kings will perform following the Rays-Orioles matchup at 3:55 p.m. at Tropicana Field, St. Pete. It's Sci-Fi night, so actors Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne and Damian Kindler of the Sci-Fi Channel series Sanctuary will be on hand signing autographs. And the first 10,000 fans get a free James Shields figurine. Tickets start at $9. tampabayrays.com.

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Punk group relishes role as celebrity Rays fans 08/28/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2008 10:13am]
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