We the Kings pack the hall in Palmetto

rdymond@bradenton.comDecember 28, 2012 

PALMETTO -- Heather Diamond, 22, of North Port has seen them 11 times.

Maria Reynolds, 21, of Jacksonville, has seen them five times.

Cameo Vovillia, 16, of St. Petersburg has been to seven of their concerts.

Samantha Lichtenstein, 16, of Sarasota, and Miranda Rothenberger, 16, of St. Petersburg have attended five and two concerts respectively.

These five young women, including Cameo's mother, Angela Vovillia, were the first people in line for Thursday's We The Kings performance at The Hall, 1330 U.S. 301, Palmetto.

"We want front-of-stage presence," said Reynolds, when asked why they came at 3 p.m. for The Sixth Annual Hometown Holiday Show, which started at 7 p.m..

The five girls and one mom were part of a capacity crowd of 950 fans who braved a chilly night to see the platinum-selling pop-punk band perform free.

"They're nice guys," Cameo said. "Fame hasn't gone to their heads."

"They're still hometown boys," Angela Vovillia said of singer/guitarist Travis Clark and bandmates Hunter Thomsen, Danny Duncan, Coley O'Toole and Charles Trippy, who formed their band in Bradenton.

Perhaps the most loyal Kings' fan at the concert was Sarah Abbey, 20, a student from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, who was attending her 19th Kings' concert.

Interestingly, Sarah's father, Jerry Abbey, 52, a insurance claims adjuster from Ohio, has attended 16 Kings' concerts with his daughter and was at Thursday's show,

It's a father-daughter hobby for the Abbeys.

Some Kings' fans recognize the elder Abbey, who stands 6-foot-7 and is always

the one dressed like he was about to climb a mountain while teens shiver around him in mini-shorts.

"I would say the shows are upbeat, with lots of life," Jerry Abbey said. "I don't fool myself. I sit in the back and just watch. But I enjoy seeing the kids explode.

"In our era, it was a big production," Abbey added, speaking of going to see the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. "Now, a lot of these bands that are popular are affordable. They can have a Meet and Greet before the show and they also can meet the fans after the show."

Abbey, who has a "We the Kings" signed T-shirt and a photograph with Travis Clark, marvels at We the Kings' drawing power, for a band that is still on the cusp of all-out stardom.

"When they come to Cleveland they draw great crowds," Abbey said. "They are popular. I think part of it is that they are nice young men. They make time for their fans and it's a very personal feeling for the fans."

Sarah Abbey has met the band members many times, quite unlike the average fans from the 1960s who never met Paul, George, Ringo and John. She doesn't seem to have a crush on any of them, just admiration.

"I went to my first concert in 2008 and I think their first album, the self-titled 'We the Kings,' did influence me as to what I liked in music," Sarah said. "I guess I liked Travis' voice. It's different from other singers."

Leah Rennaker, 11, of Manatee School For the Arts in Bradenton, attended her first We the Kings' concert Thursday. She doesn't even have a crush on any of the boys, even at her age.

"I just like their music," said Leah, who hopes one day to be a singer and piano player. Perhaps known just as Leah.

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