Playing their biggest show yet was enough to make the members of rock band Standout Story physically ill.
It's just over a week after they've opened for Thirty Seconds to Mars and Blue October in a sold-out Egyptian Room, and Standout Story's guitarist, Josh Hurt, and drummer Chase Allen are still shaking off illness while shooting pool at the Lockerbie Pub. Bassist Ryan Parks, Hurt's cousin, and vocalist Joe Miller are still too sick to join them.
The local quartet earned the honors of opening the show after winning Indy's NextUp contest, hosted by radio station X103. There were 10 performers chosen for the two-round competition, with first-round winners selected via an online vote. For the final showdown, Second Story got to play in one of their favorite venues.
"We were fortunate enough to make it past that first round and play at The Vogue," says Hurt, 22, a graduate of Decatur High School. "That was our third time playing there and we love that place. That was already a win for us."
Standout Story won the overall vote, earning the opening slot for Thirty Seconds to Mars. Hurt called it an "amazing experience." As only his second concert playing with Standout Story, it was even more so for Allen.
"In front of 2,000-plus people, I felt out of my league from the start," the 22-year-old Avon High School graduate says. "But we rocked it."
So much so, that they're still recovering. Aside from the expended adrenaline, they also had to move their own gear on a cold night, something Hurt was not dressed for.
"I definitely paid for it," he says.
Still, they got to meet Thirty Seconds frontman Jared Leto, albeit briefly. Since Leto's a well-known actor as well, there were many others backstage who wanted his attention. Instead Standout Story spent more time with Blue October singer/guitarist Justin Furstenfeld.
"He gave us a lot of good advice and was really supportive of us," says Hurt. "He said local bands don't usually have the crowd ready to go like we did. We got them fired up for them."
It's a pretty good addition to the resume of an act that's only entering its third year in existence. While each member has played music individually for years, the lineup coalesced through the area scene. Hurt and Parks met Miller through mutual friends. After their first drummer had to quit because of time constraints, they found Allen through shared contacts. It helped that Allen is an alum of the drumline from the nationally competing Marching Black & Gold of Avon High School.
"We clicked right off the bat," says Hurt. "We were talking about being a band the first day."
So far, Standout Story has issued two five-song EPs. The second, Let Me Go, debuted this fall. Their foundation is Warped Tour-ready, including buoyant pop-rock and punk, and even semi-acoustic balladry. Both releases were recorded locally at Static Shack Studios.
"On this new EP we wanted to show more of a rock side," Hurt says. "It's a general term and we have a lot of different styles. This time we have a few songs that show a more edgy side."
Playing almost all original music tends to limit how often and where Standout Story can play at home. That has disenfranchised many a local talent in the past, but hasn't deterred this band so far. Hurt has a positive outlook of the area music scene.
"From when we started, I've seen it grow big time," he says. "It's definitely getting better. And our fan base is amazing. They love us and we love them. I think that's why we keep getting such good turnouts at our shows. We respect them. Without them we're nothing."
Eventually Standout Story want to play on stages outside Central Indiana. Bloomington's Bluebird has been the farthest away so far. Despite the current dominance of electronic, pop and rap, Hurt believes there are ears that still desire the aural equivalent of blood, sweat and beer.
"I don't want to say it's dead," he says of his preferred musical style. "There's still a market out there, but it's not near the biggest. There are still people who like to rock. We look for those people."