The Calling Nervously Kick Off Their Tour In Santa Ana, CA

Group brings its easygoing pop rock sensibility to nearly packed club.

SANTA ANA, California — The Calling took the stage Wednesday night with all the visible caution of any band just enjoying mainstream success and beginning the opening night of a five-week headlining tour. Young vocalist Alex Band came out looking not unlike even younger singer Aaron Carter, sporting Johnny Rzeznik's haircut and doing a bit of a Steven Tyler impression, what with his mic stand adorned with flowing brown scarves. Guitarist and group co-founder Aaron Kamin looked over his shoulder at a tech for several minutes while bassist Billy Mohler — his cabinet dressed in an American flag — and guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme stared momentarily at drummer Nate Wood as if searching for cues.

When Band — the son of Charles Band, producer of such horror B-movies as "Re-Animator" and "Castle Freak" — formed the Calling with Kamin, he probably didn't guess that an RCA exec would soon move in next door to his house, nor that five years later, "Wherever You Will Go" would be catapulting up the charts. The Calling, together with Nickelback and Lifehouse, are part of a resurgence of rock radio busting through hip-hop, rap-metal and boy band formatting. And that's not the only thread uniting the Calling with Lifehouse; Sean is the brother of Lifehouse drummer Rick Woolstenhulme.

The Galaxy, the club that played host to the beginning of the Calling's first headlining tour since breaking through, was nearly packed, and two songs ("Final Answer," "Nothing's Changed") into the Calling's set, it became clear that the group was beginning to feel looser, and more at home on the stage. Most of their songs came across like the ballad tracks from a Staind or Creed album, all sweeping emotion, melodic guitars and thick melodrama. Other tunes kicked it up a notch while sticking to easygoing pop rock sensibilities, something that distinguishes the Calling from the more aggro-metal-oriented pack.

Alex Band graciously thanked the crowd for coming, declaring, "I couldn't have dreamed up a better first show for a tour.

"I think the last time we played this place, there were about five people over there," he later said, motioning to the left and right of the stage, "and our family over there."

"Unstoppable," culled, like most of the set, from the Calling's RCA debut, Camino Palmero, was third on the list, followed up by "Things Don't Always Turn Out That Way." Band's leather trench coat came off eventually, with the singer donning an acoustic guitar mid-set for one song and an electric guitar later on. At some point he held out a video camera to capture the crowd for his own archives, jokingly imploring them to "pretend you like us." One fan handed him a couple of flowers — just a few hours early for Valentine's Day — which he snatched up and placed upon the drum riser as he sang.

Band's vocals were consistent throughout the night, rising up into Coldplay-like falsettos at times but sticking mainly to a Stapp/Vedder-like croon. "Thank You" preceded the Calling's current hit, "Wherever You Will Go," which was a well-appreciated pay off for the crowd, judging by the crescendo roar in the club. The group left the stage briefly, returning for a handful of songs, including a new track previously unheard by the public that stays the course of the melodic pop songwriting found all over Camino Palmero.

Next up, the band moves on to Colorado for dates in Denver and Boulder.

Read about all of the shows we've recently covered in Tour Reports.