It takes a well-coordinated band to play through technical difficulties. A band that can turn a broken saxophone into a win goes beyond that. Indie rock band Photo Negative did just that at the BC’s Best competition as part of Boston College’s 24th annual Arts Festival on Friday.
Disaster struck when singer and guitarist Benjamin Crandall, CSOM ’23, who planned to debut his saxophone skills, assembled his saxophone and his mouthpiece snapped off. Saxophonist Stephen Ventura, CSOM ’22, played solo while Crandall dropped the saxophone and went back to finish the song on his guitar. The band played through the incident, finishing its set without any hiccups.
“You just witnessed the death of my saxophone,” Crandall joked to the crowd.
Despite the initial technical difficulties, Photo Negative showed off its indie rock sound and smooth song transitions to win the title of BC’s Best. As the winner of the contest, Photo Negative, which recently released its second EP, will open for Modstock headliner Dominic Fike at BC on May 5.
Photo Negative competed against two other bands that qualified for the competition following their performances at the Battle of the Bands. Jamsexual and Uncommonwealth, which recently released its first EP, took the stage earlier in the night. All three bands played original songs that featured groovy rock rhythms and guitar solos.
Jamsexual started off the night with some crowd-pleasing rock that had the audience dancing. Uncommonwealth rocked the crowd with a new song titled “Outsider” and capped its performance off with an audience request to play the band’s EP’s lead single “Phoenix from Mars.”
The bands also shared the stage with the three singer-songwriter finalists. Kate Ginley, MCAS ’23 performed solo. Cole Dumas and Colin Martin, both MCAS ’24, played as the duo called Whistle Rock, and musical pair Ali Chalmers, MCAS ’22, and Tor Newell, CSOM ’22 performed as well.
The singer-songwriters all submitted recorded performances to the BC Music Guild, which selected the three acts to perform at BC’s Best. Chalmers and Newell took home the title of best singer-songwriter.
Gracie Murnane, MCAS ’25, and Daniel Strickland, MCAS ’25, from Asinine Sketch and Improv Comedy hosted the event and filled the time between sets with jokes about Fike’s upcoming performance at Modstock. One of the pair’s recurring jokes was that the bands were actually competing for Fike’s hand in marriage, proposing that the winning singer-songwriters would compose the music for the ceremony.
All three singer-songwriter acts played acoustic, folk-inspired music. Whistle Rock featured some blues influence and even brought up Andrew Vagra, MCAS ’24, to the stage to play harmonica on the song “Avalanche.”
Ginley and the duo of Chalmers and Newell played poignant tunes. Ginley was the only solo act of the performance, and her soft voice carried her through a beautiful but short set list. It was Chalmers’ and Newell’s first time performing at an event together. Their voices complemented each other as they shared their original songs, including one about mermaids that they wrote together at the beach.