One of the best birthday presents Manatee County resident Chaz McKell, Jr. received yesterday was having his band's music played on mainstream FM radio for the first time. The band was featured on Tampa Bay's 97X during its Sunday night local music hour. Fans of the station must have loved them - they were the highest rated group of the night, McKell said.
The 25-year-old has a lot more to be excited about this week, as his Palmetto-based metal band The Stand is playing its first major headliner concert at the State Theatre in St. Pete on Saturday. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are only $8. McKell is stoked.
"As far as local bands go, you can't get a better venue than the State Theatre," McKell, the song writer of the group, said when we chatted today via phone.
The Stand got the gig when a national act that was set to appear at the venue canceled at the last minute, McKell said. Band members Parrish Holmes, Chris Potter, Jereme Valentine, Rick Svec and McKell will share Saturday night's stage with several area bands, including two Bradenton-based bands - The D.O.O.D. and The Fight for the Crown - along with From This Fire and Sons of Vengeance.
They have been promoting Saturday's concert pretty hard - putting promos out on local radio stations, the Internet and METV. Word of mouth has spread fast.
At a glance, The Stand is inspired by all-time favorite metal bands such as AC/DC, Metallica and Led Zeppelin, but they walk a musical path that's all their own. For instance, their Myspace page reads:
"While mainstream music today is inundated with sex, drugs, and generally just a small, hedonistic, and selfish worldview, we focus on filling people with hope when there is none, strength when others are weak, determination to actually finish what has been started, and courage that when many cower before the greatest of foes, a few will take their STAND."
That mantra has paid off. Since they started playing full time last May, the band members have seen their popularity grow fast and furious. ReverbNation - a Web marketing tool used by hundreds of independent music artists - logs the group as the No. 1 metal band in the area, topping several St. Petersburg's bands like Lugubrious Descent and Fatal, and Sarasota bands like Atheist.
McKell, who was laid off from Sears last year, equates the band's budding music success to the birth of his two children - it's something he can't express in words. He just hopes the success can keep going to where he can make a decent living for his family and inspire as many people as he can with his songs.
Check out the band at www.myspace.com/wearethestand, www.reverbnation.com/wearethestand and www.facebook.com/wearethestand. For tickets to Saturday's show, call (727) 895-3045. The State Theatre is at 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
- January Holmes