As the sun set over O’Neill Plaza, the main tent served up its last event of the night, the aptly named BC’s Best. Starting at 8 p.m., the two-part, two-hour-long event featured a singer-songwriter competition, as well as the final round of this year’s BC Battle of the Bands, with Lou Wilson and Ceara O’Sullivan, both A&S ’14, serving as emcees for the show. Representatives from the Music Guild, Nights on the Heights, and the UGBC acted as judges, and a three-track, professionally mixed and mastered EP for the singer-songwriters and the chance to open for Hoodie Allen at Modstock for the winner of Battle of the Bands were offered as prizes.
Nick Benevenia, A&S ’14, led the singer-songwriter competition, opening with a song titled “There’s Poison in the Ice Cream.” Following this, his friend Louis Fantini, A&S ’14, joined the stage to sing along on a song Benevenia wrote for his sister, explaining why he was seriously considering moving to the middle of nowhere in Alaska. Benevenia’s songs were heartfelt and raw, his voice matching the emotion loaded into every word-there was no denying the power behind his lyricism and his exemplary ability as a musician. As the opener for BC’s Best, Benevenia gave the audience a taste for what was in store.
Up next, Alex Navarro, A&S ’17, took the stage, making a quip about the emcees’ calling out his missed sound check. Despite being unchecked, Navarro pulled off a great set, singing in a warm and soulful tone. He even premiered a song that was written just the night before and, though still a tad unrefined, it carried the same spirit of the previous song-the songs enveloped the audience in their homey feel and in the soft rasp of his voice. His set left a warm impression upon the tent, setting the bar high for the next performer.
Taking the stage third was Terry Peng, A&S ’14, who wooed the audience with his musical swagger and jazzy style. Sporting his signature sunglasses and bright green earplug, Peng’s sound was classy, polished, and showed off his skills on the guitar and keyboard. His three-song set exuded confidence even amid lyrics that voiced uncertainty, such as on “Self Made Man.” Peng left the stage to the sounds of a very responsive crowd.
Mike Lapointe, CSOM ’14, finished off the singer-songwriter portion, giving the audience a taste of his musical range with two songs. His first song exemplified his feelings about what’s next for him and was framed by his acoustic guitar and calm voice. He employed a loop machine to show off some beatboxing skills (as well as picking skills) to give an added build-up to the end of the song, which matched the emotional content of the lyrics well. His second song, “Believe Me,” was a straight blues tune, in which Lapointe traded in for an electric bass. Lapointe let the blues pour out of him, closing the first half of BC’s Best with a raw energy hanging in the air.
Kicking off the Battle of the Bands was Juice-an eight-piece band whose funk and soul brought the crowd to its feet. Juice’s energy was infectious. Songs were seamlessly blended into one another, and the structure of each was skillfully crafted, with soulful vocals, clever raps, and even an a cappella section. For a band that is so young (seven of eight of the members are freshmen), Juice owned the entire tent with the certainty and confidence of seasoned performers. The group is fronted by violinist Christian Rougeau, A&S ’17, who also raps. The band has a funky, yet soul-filled sound and is deeply talented. Juice finished off its set to a well-deserved standing ovation.
Up next was Seaver’s Express, a four-piece band who dished out a full helping of good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. The group kept up the energy in the tent created by Juice, not shying away from taking chances on stage. Toes were tapping and heads were bobbing along to all four of Seaver’s Express’ songs, which included recently-released single “A Different Gravity.” Sporting a bowtie and a big red guitar, front-man Brian Seaver’s crisp voice carried spirit and energy through each song, from the rowdier “2×2” to the blues-tinged “A Different Gravity.” Despite the stiff competition, Seaver’s Express seemed not to break even a sweat and earned itself a title as one of the crowd favorites.
Rounding out the Battle of the Bands competition was Bobnoxious and the Master Craftsmen-a five-piece band that looks just as eccentric as it sounds. The band’s musical style called to mind laid-back, ’70s era rock a la Pink Floyd. Of the three bands, it was the most experimental in sound, with keyboardist Bobby Scheuch, A&S ’14, providing a refined electronic sound that went beyond the traditional key tones. Despite the group’s laid-back feel, drummer Ryan Moore, CSOM ’14, provided some hardcore drums fills, which pushed the band more toward a hard rock sound at times. The band’s last number, however, took on a classic rock feel, with Jimi Hendrix-esque vocals and a slick guitar solo.
After a few minutes of deliberation, the judges had made a decision and the results were in. The winners were Peng for the singer-songwriters and Juice for the Battle of the Bands. Given the title, BC’s Best set the bar high for expectation-yet, the event did not fail to deliver in giving the audience the best. The potential presented was undeniable. As Wilson put it, “I shook Terry Peng’s hand!”