A blend of pulsating blue and pink lights cast a funky atmosphere throughout the large white tent in O’Neill Plaza. The tent, filled to capacity since the start of the Battle of the Bands competition, had already hosted a handful of talented singers, songwriters, and musicians vying for the title of champion of the night’s music festivities. Hosted by Arts Council, Campus Activities Board and the Music Guild, the annual BC’s Best music showcase attracted a large audience with its wide spectrum of music styles and vocal talent on Thursday night. As the event drew to a close and the judges sat eagerly on the verge of deliberation, only one act remained.
Shouting excitedly and fighting for access to the front row, music fans formed a rather rambunctious crowd which pressed up close against the elevated Arts Festival stage. William Bolton, CSOM ’16, had just finished his high-energy set, including boppy Bolton originals like “Bud Light” and “Bad Girl.” Before Bolton, the experimental indie group Small Talk laid down some atmospheric jams as Katie Kelleher, CSOM ’18, and Meghan Kelleher, LSOE ’16, lent their distinct vocal style to the tracks. Now, as the only group that had yet to perform, the all-sophomore trio Funky Giant had to bring something special to the stage if they hoped to triumph over some stiff competition.
After a few test strums on his guitar strings, a musician in a maroon shirt stepped nonchalantly to center stage. Leaning into the mic after exchanging a grin of genuine elation with lead guitarist Henry Ricciardi, CSOM ’18, the charismatic Nick Rocchio-Giordano, MCAS ’18, addressed the throng of his screaming fans.
“Boston College,” he said, squinting through the bright stage lights and out into the crowd. “I wanna hear you guys go frickin’ nuts.”
Truth is, he really didn’t even have to ask.
Rocchio-Giordano, Ricciardi, and drummer Mario Borges, MCAS ’18, launched into a high-tempo set of perfectly executed funk—a groovy mess of electric guitar licks and steady percussion that thrilled audience members and judges alike. Despite its total lack of vocals, Funky Giant’s skilled instrumentals and boogie-inducing original songs more than made up for the lyric-less tracks.
Preceding the Battle of the Bands finale was a heated Singer/Songwriter component in which students showcased their raw vocal talents and deft guitar skills. The Kelleher Sisters enchanted listeners with sweet-sounding harmonies and yearning vocals. Their unique voices, converging in delightful conjunction with soft guitar chords and keyboard riffs, resonated through the tent and created a charmingly mellow atmosphere. The audience sat attentive, feeling every emotion contained within the songs as the sisters crooned the pleading lyrics “Do you see me?”
Rachel Moon’s, MCAS ’19, empowered lyrics and emotion-heavy vocals set the tone for a series of passionate performances by BC singer/songwriters. Bolton showed off his catchy hooks and infectious new-school-meets-old-school style, returning to the stage later in the program to compete in Battle of the Bands as well. Another contender in Battle of the Bands was Small Talk, who teamed up with The Kelleher Sisters to perform a handful of colorful original tracks. Atmospheric and psychedelic, the synth-soaked indie songs got the audience swaying and bopping along to the beat.
Armed with a guitar, a harmonica, and an arsenal of impressive vocals, Jonathan Im, MCAS ’17, performed original tracks “Just Kids” and “Down the River,” among others. Truly compelling, Im’s impressive vocals, touched by a warm raspiness, were reminiscent of the impassioned tone of Ray LaMontagne. Prefacing his performance with an explanation of his lyrics, Im said, “I wrote this at a time when life hits you in the face, sacks you. You feel like a kid again—helpless.” Im beautifully encapsulated these sentiments when he soulfully sang, “We’re just kids figuring it out as we go through the highs and the lows, through the painful blows.”
Liz McGovern, MCAS ’18, stunned the crowd with her vocal performance. Powerful and poignant while simultaneously light and airy, McGovern’s vocals rightfully won her the esteemed title of Best Singer/Songwriter. Infused with that sweet, evanescent twang of hers, McGovern’s hauntingly beautiful songs commanded the attention of all in attendance. Her quirky, self-described “love child of mini-songs” that she wrote herself served as a truly charming addition to the event’s lineup.
As for Funky Giant, the exciting win and upcoming gig opening for T-Pain at Modstock help the group really take root as a prominent BC band. Seemingly unconcerned, however, about the escalating fame and attention, Funky Giant humbly implies that it’s really all about the fun. Of his victory Thursday night, Rocchio-Giordano said, “It was a blast to play for everyone. We just want to thank everyone involved for supporting such a great event.”
“The best part of the whole thing was being able to play with such an unreal crowd and share the stage with so many talented musicians,” Rocchio-Giordano said, recalling his band’s exciting win. “As for T-Pain we’re psyched for the opportunity and can’t wait to lay down some more funk for Modstock.”
Corrections: this article has been updated to reflect the fact that Arts Council also hosted the event.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor