- 7 min read

🎸EXCLUSIVE: Y'all Out Boy's rise to fame

The pop punk cover band has ascended to Austin stardom, thanks in part to the city's booming growth.


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☀️ Wassuuuuuup, Austin.

Got a special treat for you today: We talked to the guys behind Y'all Out Boy, the city's favorite early-2000s pop punk cover band doling out healthy doses of nostalgia one Saturday a month.

They told us all about their rise to Austin fame, how the city's changed since they formed in 2017, and how our city — with its menagerie of music venues and pipeline of millennial newbies — was the perfect match for a group like theirs.

The kings of Austin's pop punk cover scene

Millennials make up 40% of Austin’s population, a SmartAsset study said in November. A little over 103,000 members of Gen Y moved here in 2022 alone.

At that time, Y’all Out Boy — now solidified as Austin royalty of sorts — was four years into belting out the songs of every millennial's youth around town.

They’ve gone from playing hole-in-the-wall places at 1 in the morning to packed concerts on the hallowed stages of Empire Garage and Control Room, Emo's and Mohawk. The band's shows are consistently sold out, some with 1,600-max capacity and tickets priced at ~$20.

Their status as an Austin staple is undeniable, at least according to Gen Y Austinites. 

Bobby Cox

And the bandmates will be the first to acknowledge that their ascent to local stardom was a perfect storm of:

  • Austin’s booming growth
  • Millennial nostalgia
  • Covid-bred loneliness in a city of transplants looking for friends
  • Austin’s trademark circuit of live music venues
  • And a broader resurgence of pop punk in mainstream culture (see: My Chemical Romance reunions and the likes of Machine Gun Kelly ushering the genre back into the limelight).

Y'all Out Boy is playing its 100th show on Saturday at Radio East, a shindig that’s almost sold out at time of writing. And when we caught up with the bandmates recently, their sentiment was the same as it was when they started: They never imagined the heights to which Y’all Out Boy would soar.

“I truly think we have caught lightning in a bottle,” guitarist David Kemmerer told us. “I don’t think if you did this again at any other point in time or in any other city … I think there’s a very unique thing.”

From Dirty Sixth to ticketed concerts

Y’all Out Boy’s four members have something in common with a good chunk of Austin’s residents: They’re all transplants.

Jason Cairns, bassist, is a Wisconsin native and moved to the city in 2014. Wylie Sanchez, drummer, hails from Connecticut. Alex McCracken, guitarist, is from Southern California. And Kemmerer, from Minneapolis, came in 2016.

It was the latter’s Craigslist ad, posted to form a pop punk group, that brought the gaggle of guys together in mid-2017.

From left to right: Kemmerer, Cairns, Sanchez and McCracken Bobby Cox

The idea was always to perform pop punk cover songs. Think Blink-182, Sum 41, Fall Out Boy (obviously), All Time Low, All-American Rejects, Green Day and a crowd of sweaty millennials — temporarily reverted to their high school days — screaming along to the words.

“Someone will come up to us and be like, ‘This is my 12th show.' And I’m like, 'You realize we’re a cover band. Why are you coming to 12 shows?'" Kemmerer said with a laugh. "And the reason is it’s this whole, really cool communal thing.”

They cut their teeth with shows at The Blind Pig — founded in 1999 — on Dirty starting in July 2018.

“That was a big deal I remember initially,” Kemmerer said. “That was a pretty hoppin’ spot.”

Then came The Courtyard and Speakeasy, where '80s cover band Spazmatics reigned. The two venues helped put Y’all Out Boy on the map.

But everything shifted in early 2020 — before the world shut down — when the band scored gigs at Empire Garage and Control Room, a venue founded in 2011 off Red River. 

Why? Because the guys went from playing at bars that merely charge covers to actual ticketed concerts.

“That really completely changed the trajectory of the band,” Kemmerer said. “Because all of a sudden we were like, ‘Whoa, we can sell tickets and people are buying tickets to come and see us.’”

Bobby Cox

What's [our] age again?

The guys might be more famous than the average resident (Kemmerer said he gets recognized wherever he goes). But being here for almost a decade, they’ve had a front-row seat to Austin’s transformation just like the rest of us.

“There’s just more of everything,” said Cairns, who used to live in Mueller. “There’s more bars, there’s more apartments. It all comes with growth.”

The pandemic altered the city and, arguably, people’s needs as well.

“I remember noticing that once the world came back from Covid, there were lines outside of every bar,” Kemmerer said. “And booking a dinner reservation that you could have gotten the night before is now booked like, two weeks in advance. That was not a thing when I was here in '17, '18, '19.”

The music scene is also a bit different. They've watched venues shutter over the years, either as a byproduct of pandemic rules or other reasons. And they've watched surviving venues, determined to stay afloat and keep the customers coming, try new things. Like ... checks notes ... Shrek-themed DJ nights.

“I think it’s because people are more willing to pay for something if they know what they’re going to get," Cairns said about the uptick in those kinds of events.

And like we’ve written about before, the homebuying situation is a lot different than when the bandmates first moved here.

“We’re in the process of buying a new house and I, at times, feel like I’m being priced out of the city,” Sanchez said.

Bobby Cox

But the band also realizes that it’s directly benefitting from the influx of young folks who are moving here. And just like those millennial transplants, the guys are getting ... a bit older — a fact that 9 p.m. showtimes put into glaring perspective.

“That is something we recognize,” Cairns said. “But it’s not always in our control to ask for” start times of 8 p.m. or earlier — even though they'd like to — because of a number of reasons, including what times venues prefer.

Which makes the scores of Gen Y-ers that do come out all the more of a reminder of how much Y’all Out Boy is loved in the city.

The producer for podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan, who lives here, is apparently a fan. So is Anthony Jones (AKA @theatxdrinker), who told us the band gives people something to look forward to.

“Add in the best cover band name, especially when it comes to a Texas band, and to start in the live music capital of the world makes them even better,” Jones said.

'We'll keep playing if people keep coming'

The guys typically stick to doing one weekend show a month. Any more, and "you lose some of the magic on what makes these shows so special," Sanchez told us in an email after our interview.

That makes private events harder, too, although they did perform at a wedding once at Q2 Stadium, where the Austin FC team plays.

Besides, yes, they do all have day jobs, if you're curious. Sanchez has a video editing agency, McCracken is a sales manager at Yeti, Kemmerer runs a crypto tax software startup, and Cairns is an insurance coverage mediator/lawyer.

Bobby Cox

The group celebrates its sixth anniversary this summer, a longer time than usual for a band to stay together. And just like every year, Y’all Out Boy is playing a commemorative show at a soon-to-be-announced location.

“We all feel gratitude to the city of Austin and the people who come to see us," Kemmerer said.

In 2022, the group also started venturing outside of Austin to Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and even Boston and New York City for gigs.

But all you have to do is scan their Instagram to know they’re not forgetting their roots (“Austin’s Pop Punk & Emo Cover Band”).

“If it was in another city with fewer music venues without the big outdoors, good weather — maybe it wouldn’t be as possible,” Cairns said.

— Katie Canales, Editor

Temperature: 79 | Sun: Star of the show | What to Expect: Breezy northwest winds

GORGEOUS. We’ll expect plenty of sunshine with cooler morning temperatures, in the 40s and 50s, but the afternoon will be warm with highs around 80 degrees. You may want to load up on the allergy medicine this week because breezy winds will be blowing the oak pollen around for a few days.

Mary’s Tip: The weather is going to be perfect for a fun run with the East Austin Runners Club. Meet up at the East Austin Athletic Club at 5:45 p.m. to get those endorphins goin'.

🚗 In It Together

Today's clue is for 12 Across: the French word for what we said to the Frank Erwin Center starting in December.

Were so glad you found us. Find our bios and contact info here, or reach out at hello@austindaily.com. Behind todays send: Katie Canales and Mary Wasson.