Any Columbus band that can rack up almost 4,000 Facebook fans is worth a look, so I biked over to the Long Street stage at Red, White & Boom last Friday afternoon to watch The Forties do their thing.

Any Columbus band that can rack up almost 4,000 Facebook fans is worth a look, so I biked over to the Long Street stage at Red, White & Boom last Friday afternoon to watch The Forties do their thing.

These guys rose to prominence on campus as the house band at O Patio and Pub, the bro-friendly bar in the former Four Kegs location at 15th & High. As such, they're used to whetting the crowd's appetite with covers and slipping in original material when attention spans allow.

That's probably not a bad strategy for Red, White & Boom, though it left them sticking out at the Long Street stage, where mostly workmanlike original bands of the indie rock persuasion were performing Friday.

Though they occasionally morph into a rock-rap hybrid or a disco rave unit with assists from rapper B.Yonest and DJ Axcess, The Forties typically traffic in lively mall-punk in the vein of The All-American Rejects. New single "Fallen" is memorable enough that when they closed with it Friday, I knew I'd heard it somewhere before. It's also faceless enough that I could have sworn it was a cover.

"Fallen" is utilitarian - a song-by-numbers, but an expertly executed song-by-numbers. Many bands have scored hits this way, draining their music of personality and playing to the lowest common denominator with a catchy hook in a generic mold. Such an approach makes for splendid MTV reality show background music but does not lend itself to a thrilling concert experience.

Still, Friday's original tunes were welcome reprieves from the rest of the set. I just can't stomach a straight-faced cover of a Linkin Park/Jay-Z mashup (or an ironic one, for that matter). And it requires a special sort of privileged self-deception to follow stage banter about flying back from recording sessions in L.A. with pleas to buy your music because you're poor.

This crew is talented, adaptable and clever enough to work the system. If they're after stardom, they have a fighting chance, but I'd enjoy an approach with more character and less calculation.