Tongs kick off College Week

No one is more surprised that Fighting Tongs is doing so well than the members of Fighting Tongs.

The group of close friends from Minneapolis/St. Paul started "messing around" musically two years ago, and their first song was a local hit. They decided to go for it.

"We are all good friends, and I think that's the thing that comes off most on stage," singer Jorgis Unga said. "That's what makes it fun to watch us."

Before they knew it, Fighting Tongs was playing the bigger venues in Minneapolis and drawing crowds. Then, their music was featured on a snowboarding video, "Replicas of Nothing," featuring some of the biggest names in Minnesota snowboarding.

"We're starting to realize that people are driving on (our music)," singer Jay Smith said. "We're very new at this, but we're coming up pretty fast."

Sunday night's show at Levelz will be the kick-off party for College Ski Week, when more than 10,400 people are expected to arrive in town -- most of them college students on holiday package deals. It also will be the first time that the Fighting Tongs have played outside of Minnesota.

They joined up with Paradise Parties, which is sending them on a tour of Colorado during College Week and to Mazatlan, Mexico, during Spring Break, marketing them to a younger crowd.

"We're all in our 20s, and we're pretty young looking kids," Smith said. "And we're rocking the trendy stuff."

They attract "alternative-style people like snowboarders and skateboarders" to their shows, Smith said. "It's a high-energy show. We're very influenced by punk, but we also sing in three-part harmonies. We have catchy songs with hooks so people can sing along.

"It's a nice party show. We're not shoving politics down your throat."

The members of Fighting Tongs were heavily influenced, Smith said, by fellow Twin Cities band Less Than Jake.

"We went to their shows and saw how they could get people jumping and having a good time," Smith said. "That's exactly what we want out of this. We want people to be having as much fun as we are. That's the bottom line."

College Week lasts through Jan. 11 and includes shows by 2 Live Crew, Reverend Horton Heat, Bill Smith and Michael Travis from String Cheese Incident (playing with the band Zilla).

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

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