Local music review: High School

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

When Alabama rapper Yelawolf rocked the Fader Fort during last year's South by Southwest conference, he left an impression, but not with his music.

I later discovered Yelawolf's "Pop the Trunk" was one of 2010's baddest tracks thanks to the trailer-park emcee's genius storytelling and piercing delivery. At the time, I noticed his skills as a crowd-pleaser a lot more than his merits as a rapper, mainly because he spent his entire set tossing beer, T-shirts and tennis shoes into the audience and inviting ladies on stage to dance.

It was fun, but I can't remember a single song.

The experience came to mind last Thursday at Carabar while watching High School, a pop-punk band that rubs shoulders with the likes of Steamboat and the dearly departed Hurt People Hurt People. Very little about the music stood out to me, yet the performance is indelibly etched in my brain thanks to the band's antics.

A conversation with ex-Hurt People bassist Greg Garms painted High School as a teenage emo outfit a la Taking Back Sunday taken to an ironic extreme a la The Darkness. A spin through High School's new "Over It" EP more or less confirms the description.

This band knows its way around an anthem. They have a handle on the tried-and-true rumbling rhythm section and ascending power chords recipe. But like most groups of this ilk, they suffer from the most obnoxious vocal stylings in pop music history. How an entire genre developed around stratospheric whines interspersed with upset-stomach groans is beyond my comprehension.

At Carabar, though, I was sufficiently amused by the non-stop chaos to distract me from any musical crimes. Seeing this band is like attending a rad college party, no doubt because most of their gigs take place at rad college parties.

Fun was job one with these dudes, whether that meant stripping down to their briefs or introducing themselves under various guises: "We're Technical Difficulties from Detroit," then "We're Barbra Streisand from New Zealand." They revved up the sparse but devoted audience, inspiring the first instance of crowd surfing I've witnessed at Carabar.

They snared me, too. I can't imagine listening to one of their records for pleasure, but I had a blast at their show.