MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. – Nick Sanderson has embraced the St. Louis music scene for years, and he’s even worked with local bands to create original music. But one big assignment he recently earned in front of tens of thousands is unlike anything he’s ever done.
Sanderson had the opportunity to sing Nickelback’s hit song “Rockstar” with the band during their visit to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre last week.
“The whole thing has been kind of a whirlwind,” said Sanderson. “I didn’t really expect it to even really happen.”
Just three days before the show, with support from his fiancée, Sanderson entered a contest through 98.1 FM by submitting a video of him singing “Rockstar” shirtless in a bathroom. One day later, he was informed he’d have the chance to meet the band and sing the song on stage.
Two days later, Sanderson lived up to the hype of his video and took it a step further. Once called up on stage, he not only took off his shirt like in his video audition, but he also sported a mullet wig and sunglasses to the look of a true rock musician. It all culminated to a warm welcome from a crowd of 21,000-plus.
“[Staff members] were like, we’re gonna introduce you. Yada, yada. That was it,” said Sanderson. “I don’t think they expected me to take my shirt off, put a wig on, and throw some shades on, so that was just cool.”
Sanderson had the opportunity to meet Nickelback’s band members shortly before the show and described their cast as “down-to-earth guys.” Once the show started, something a bit unforeseen happened that further served as motivation for Sanderson.
Lead singer Chad Kroeger stopped abruptly in the middle of one song early in his set. He acknowledged to the crowd that he had been dealing with an abnormally sore throat the entire day and wasn’t sure if he could continue.
“At first I was like, ‘Oh, man.’ Maybe it’s just some sort of joke for crowd participation,” said Sanderson. “And then I was like, Oh no, they’re being serious, and my fiancee looks at me, and we’re both just kind of scared. Like, we told so many people about this.”
With encouragement from the crowd, Kroeger powered through his sore throat, changed up a few songs in the set, and arranged for “Rockstar” to be one of the show’s final acts. Sanderson’s big moment was back as planned, and he knew it was a big opportunity to shine.
“Up on stage in some of the videos, [Chad is] like, ‘Hey, brother, if there’s any time I need a hand, it’s now.’ And I was like, ‘Alright. I have to do this.’ I have to be part of Nickelback now.”
Sanderson said he didn’t really feel nervous about performing due to his background in music and theatre. He was surprised by the warm reception from the crowd and views from the big stage.
“I remember looking down in the crowd, like directly in front of me, and there are people with cameras up, and they’re singing the words to me,” said Sanderson. “I was like, this isn’t even my song, but like, this is the coolest feeling in the entire world. I should have expected people to get into it, but I wasn’t. So actually seeing that was cool.”
Sanderson said he has dreamed of opportunities to perform in front of large crowds since he was a child. He said it was hard to sleep and contain his excitement a few days before the opportunity.
“This is literally once in a lifetime,” said Sanderson. “I’m sure this will never happen to me again. It happened so perfectly.”
Fittingly, Sanderson says “Rockstar” is one of five go-to songs he regularly sings in karaoke. He adds that he has loved Nickelback since he was a child and adds, “Whether you like it or not, you can’t deny it. They’re one of the best bands to come out of [my childhood].”
Leading up to his big opportunity, Sanderson enjoyed time with a local band known as Reeling. He was also heavily involved with music and theatre opportunities at Windsor High School in Imperial, Waldorf University in Iowa and Gifted Productions in St. Louis.