My friends and I have started a band called Fault of Abraham, but unfortunately not everyone is going to be advanced enough to write our own song, so we were going to stick to doing covers of various songs and rock bands.

Bands we were going to do covers of:

-My Chemical Romance
-The Used
-Bring Me The Horizon
-Green Day
-Of Mice & Men

And various others...

My question is... what are the copyright rules for performing covers? We most likely won't make it BIG, but if we were to perform somewhere, it'd probably be at a school event or open-mic at various places. Not any MAJOR gigs. But I'm still concerned.

Any help is appreciated!
I've been playing covers for years during my bands' sets, in lots of different places and settings, and never had a problem. My friends do the exact same thing in their bands.
As long as you're not playing an event with considerable projection, I'd say you're fine.
But there's little to no control over that kind of stuff in my country. The cops are more worried with stuff like traffic violations or drug-related issues.

If you know that in your country/area there's a history of people getting in trouble for copyright issues, I wouldn't do it.
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I've always heard that performing covers live is no problem. It's selling your cover of another band's song that may get you in trouble.

So if you play a big summer festival to 20,000 people playing only covers and get paid an unreal amount of money doing it, enjoy your cash.

If you record the performance and sell the recordings, expect a cease-and-desist letter from a few record companies.
Many bands start with cover songs and I'm 100% sure they don't pay for playing the songs, especially if they are just small gigs. As long as you don't record an album full of covers and release it, you'll be fine.

Here's a quote from a lawyer's blog:

PERFORMING A COVER SONG LIVE: The rock band or solo performer does not need a license to perform a cover song live. It is the club, restaurant, or concert venue that is supposed to obtain a license or licenses for generally hosting music performances, which includes the live music as well as the recorded music they play over the sound system. These are licenses from PROs, or performing rights organizations, namely ASCAP, BMI, SESAC. These organizations sell licenses on their websites. They also send agents to clubs and restaurants to try to get them to buy a license.

Sometimes a venue or store will tell you that you cannot play any cover songs. This means they have opted not to buy any music performance licenses from the PROs. If you are told this, you must be very careful not to play those songs. Do not try to sneak them in.

If you are planning a residency or major tour where you will be renting venues, and you plan to play cover songs, part of the planning should be to be sure each venue has proper licensing.

Also, if you are planning a show or repertoire that is wholly or mainly cover songs, you should check with the applicable PRO to see if they insist you have a license. If the venues you play have licenses, you are covered. If you are producing your own shows at locations without licenses, you may need to obtain a license. Granted, most cover bands do not bother with any of this and simply forge ahead and play the cover songs.

So yeah, you don't need to worry about it.
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