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A "Calling" In Paradise

Arts Online Exclusive

By Sonya M. Lai, Contributing Writer

The revamped Paradise Rock Club stands decidedly alone from its poseur Lansdowne counterparts, in a lonely spot near Boston University. Monday afternoon was different however: A gathering of about fifty underage girls huddled behind the velvet rope, whispering excitedly about cute guys and trading backstage access tips under the large “SOLD OUT” sign. Not bad for The Calling’s first headlining tour.

A band deliberately marketed as a pretty boy rock band (shaggy-haired blondes barely out of their teenage years), it is easy to dismiss the Calling as the industry’s next attempt to capitalize on the burgeoning teen-pop genre. Indeed, vocalist Alex Band’s earnest crooning about love and rejection is enough to make any girl swoon. The intense romance of Camino Palmero, the band’s debut release, is a courtship of raw emotions, broken hearts, and longing. Their audience can expect nothing but warm fuzzy instant gratification, all pleasure and no aftertaste. Yet what credibility does a band have when it sold all its tickets to young women who fell in obsession with the boys on the cover first, before listening to the music?

However, The Calling never deliberately chased after the fake id club. That was a product of its management acting on the YM blurbs, TRL enthusiasm. The band knew they are being manipulated, but also knew these were the small battles they had to lose in order to accomplish their much larger focus. “To rebel against the game you have to play it, to get some status,” co-songwriter and guitarist Aaron Kamin explained. “You have to pick and choose your battles. Hopefully we can have success and that many more kids get the record and hear the greater good of it.” He said the aim is to “help people out.”

That is why, despite all the pomp and gloss, rock star displays and true-to-the-album reenactment, The Calling, is still credible as a rock band. Frontman Band’s melodrama only intensifies the band’s presence. The defeated to-the-knee collapses amidst power ballads and Top 40 hit “Wherever You Will Go” conveyed an unearthly burden, as if The Calling were sent from heaven to deliver redemption. The beyond-cool ’60s swagger and spasms during the fervidly-charged “Nothing’s Changed” demanded rock star adulation. The singer-songwriter solo guitar buildup of “Stigmatized” worked on the sexual frustration accumulating center audience., while Band flirted with the circumference of the stage.

The Calling’s aim is to “make a difference.” Every night touring is a fight for positivity and awareness and their only weapon is their passion onstage. Describing himself as both a romantic and a realist, Kamin pronounced, “Music is there to teach you something. That’s what we set out to do. We want to offer understanding because there is a total common running thread running through people. We all want love and happiness and some sort of affirmation of our time here.” They are idealistic, certainly, but with a deep-rooted purpose.

The performance concluded with a burnt-out “Adrienne.” This time, drums were a little louder, riffs rougher, and vocals fiercer, projected from both the stomach and throat. The sound was less appetizing perhaps, but the performance was unquestionably dedicated. Each song was modestly counterbalanced with a sincere, soft-voiced “Thank you.” After all, for all the glory and fame of appearances on Jay Leno and mentions in Rolling Stone, these are still unjaded, warm-hearted guys who have had a little more success at what they love doing.

The Calling Concert

March 11

Paradise Rock Club

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