When his mom, Karen (LISA KUDROW), gets a new teaching job in New Jersey, teenager Will Burton (GAELAN ALEXANDER CONNELL) moves with her there from Cincinnati where he was routinely harassed by his classmates, resulting in him withdrawing into his love of music. Now with a blank slate at his new high school, Will hopes to start life anew, and ends up being befriended by Sa5m (VANESSA HUDGENS), a quiet, book-reading girl who not only informs him that the 5 in her name is silent, but that he's also arrived in the world of Bandslam.
That's a tri-state rock band competition that's as big as Texas high school football and where the winning group is awarded a recording contract. This year's favorite is Ben Wheatley and The Glory Dogs, fronted by Ben Wheatley (SCOTT PORTER), but Will finds himself more interested in Charlotte (ALYSON MICHALKA), the former head cheerleader and prom queen turned social do-gooder who recruits Will to help her run their school's daycare center.
Sa5m warns Will about her, saying that appearances can be deceiving, and he soon learns that not only was she once Ben's girlfriend, but she was also in his band. She still plays with the likes of guitarist Omar (TIM JO) and bassist Bug (CHARLIE SAXTON) in an unofficial garage band, but being aware of Will's expertise in the genre, she allows him to make suggestions.
That eventually involves expanding the band to include the likes of drummer Basher (RYAN DONOWHO), as well a cellist, pianist and three-man horn section. As Will helps Charlotte get her band in shape for Bandslam, she helps him in the finer points of romancing Sa5m for whom he's now developed romantic feelings.