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How A Highland Park Band Got Picked To Open For The Rolling Stones

Vista Kicks are, from left, Trevor Sutton, Derek Thomas, Nolan Le Vine and Sam Plecker. (Courtesy of Vista Kicks)
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By Andrea Gutierrez with Marley Feuerwerker-Otto

When Highland Park-based Vista Kicks take the stage at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on Aug. 18, they'll have the honor of opening for none other than The Rolling Stones.

The band is still in disbelief at how they got the invite to open for the legendary rock band. Guitarist Sam Plecker and singer Derek Thomas, along with bassist Trevor Sutton and Nolan Le Vine on drums, grew up together in Roseville, near Sacramento, and they've been weathering the trials and tribulations of life as musicians ever since.

"For a band like us, we're independent. We're small," Thomas told The Frame. "We've known each other our whole lives. This is beyond our wildest dreams."

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Despite the bigger venue and an illustrious headlining band, the Kicks will still be carrying their own amps like at any other show.

"Even if we wanted to hire people," Thomas said, "we don't know anybody who does stadium level. Not in our Rolodex."

So how did this indie band with the self-described "booty shakin' rock 'n' roll" sound get to open for a rock legend? It began with a Kickstarter.

The band's barely funded campaign allowed them to not only release their album "Twenty Something Nightmare," but it also let them tour the UK with the Kooks in 2018.

It was in London where the Rolling Stones' manager, Joyce Smyth, saw them perform.

"We met her and we were like, 'Wow, like you're actually the manager of the Rolling Stones. That's insane," Thomas said. When Smith told them she liked them and that the Vista Kicks would be considered as an opener for the Rolling Stones' No Filter tour in the U.S., they brushed it off. "And then we just forgot about it."

Months later, they got a call. "Ronnie Wood heard your music," they remembered hearing of the Rolling Stones guitarist, "and he likes it." They still didn't believe it. "Mick Jagger's heard your music," they joke today, "and doesn't hate it." Still, they didn't think anything would come of it.

It was on a drive home to Roseville that the Vista Kicks' manager called to say they didn't get the Rose Bowl show -- that honor went to Gary Clark Jr. -- but they got the Stones' only other California show instead, in Santa Clara.

After opening for the Stones, the Vista Kicks hope to keep the ball rolling and their spirits up.

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"We're going to feel more inspired than ever to make the best music we can," Sutton said, "because we're going to have probably more eyes on us than we've ever had."

Some tickets remain for the Rolling Stones show at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on August 18, where the Vista Kicks are openers. They headline their own show at the Teragram Ballroom on August 21.

Editor's note: A version of this story was also on the radio. Listen to it on KPCC's The Frame.

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