If I wanted to detail my complicated personal relationship with pop-punk, I could probably go on for awhile. I might even bore the ever-loving crap out of you in the process.
For concision — because I really want and need to get to Y’all Out Boy’s fourth anniversary show at the Far Out Lounge on Friday — let’s just say I’ve had a lot of good times with the genre (I was still young and, later, young-ish in its heyday), a lot of cringe-y listens, and a few moments where a song made me actively angry (I won’t name any names, but there’s an example that rhymes with “H8r Toi”). And later, revisionist history on some of the genre’s biggest names made me realize I no longer could buy what they were selling. Causes include excessive whininess, brattiness, bad songwriting, sanded-down production, and a level of punk poseurism above the legal limit.
So, it’s complicated — more complicated than other long-maligned genres like hair-metal or nu-metal, where the rancid-smelling haystacks overwhelm the few gleaming needles.
But for two sets covering three hours at Far Out, Y’All Out Boy — a four-piece with an absurdly large following for such a young genre tribute band, as evidenced by Friday’s sellout — removed all complication. In its place: nonstop fun, backstopped by a massive crowd of mostly twenty- and thirty-somethings dancing, jumping, and volleying around an annoying number of beach balls to every turn-of-the-century cover nugget YOB had to offer. The fun was what multiple friends had sold me on before Friday’s show, and the fun was what I got.
In the hands of front-trio instrumentalists Jason Cairns, David Kemmerer and Alex McCracken (who all take turns on lead vocals) and drummer Wylie Sanchez, all those personal conflicts about this style, its legacy, and its MGK-driven resurgence simply faded away. YOB performed many of the radio hits of the era that hold up the best (Blink-182’s “Dammit,” Fall Out Boy’s “Dance Dance”), and as for the rest … well, they sell their good time with such conviction that the warts of the rest just don’t matter.
Specifically, that means my deep conviction that “A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it” is an objectively stupid line in an obnoxious song that wore out its welcome within a year of its release … it didn’t matter. YOB sold “Sugar, We’re Going Down” (admittedly a much more popular song in society than in my brain), My Chemical Romance’s overblown “Welcome to the Black Parade,” and other fang-baring earworms whose original incarnation I don’t have any use for anymore.
But even outside of their ability to pull off some numbers that are aging like Franzia in a hot car (recent personal experience — don’t ask), the whole thing works in part because of Y’All Out Boy’s versatility. Opening their night with a more enduring MCR number, “I’m Not Okay (I Promise), they did right by its relatable, emo-y angst with spirit and musicianship, also pulling the same trick on other emo pleasures like Taking Back Sunday’s legit classic “MakeDamnSure” and Hawthorne Heights’ now-underrated “Ohio is For Lovers.”
Entering this almost unacceptably hot and humid night — for which I hadn’t acted in time to get a ticket, but got lucky when I found someone in line with an extra — I frankly wondered if Y’all Out Boy was going to disappoint relative to expectations. I was all about checking them out, but really … a line that stretched all the way across and down the expanse of Far Out and both sides of its parking lot? Are they as good a time as Austin thinks they are?
The answer is yes. If you have any affinity for this genre at all, MakeDamnSure you catch ’em.