Once a year, Boston College brings together its student musicians, from hard rock to indie arts, to determine who is BC’s Best.
BC’s Best is an annual competition during Arts Fest that determines the opening act for Modstock, a concert that takes place on the last day of classes. The competitors of BC’s Best are the top three winners of both Music Guild’s Battle of the Bands and singer-songwriter competition. Here’s a closer look at the artists and groups competing.
In September of 2022, Daniel Kabanovsky, bassist and MCAS ’24, and Ian Bourgin, rhythm guitarist and MCAS ’25, met in a music class at BC. They connected due to their similar music taste and mutual desire to start a band, Bourgin said.
Soon after, Kabanovsky recruited Colin Cui, lead guitarist and MCAS ’25, after watching him perform at an open mic event. He found Jack Daggenhurst, drummer and MCAS ’24, through the recommendation of a Music Guild e-board member. Finally, Alexandra Bates, lead singer, main songwriter, and MCAS ’26, joined the band through an audition the band held in search of a singer.
Reigning Scarlet is the new kid on the block at BC. It is a band with no fixed genre, mainly mixing hard rock, alternative, and even blues, which Cui summed up as a “beautiful mess.”
With suggestions ranging from Infinite Blue, inspired by Kabanovsky’s obsession with the color, to Infinite Head, Bourgin said the band brainstormed a set of names until settling on Reigning Scarlet during a dinner on campus. According to Cui, the name Reigning Scarlet reflects the band’s neo-classical focus.
“Expect very loud drums, very loud music, definitely a lot of energy that hopefully the crowd will reflect as well,” Cui said about the band’s upcoming performance at BC’s Best.
Reigning Scarlet will perform its full discography at BC’s Best, which includes three originals that are not yet available on streaming services: “Serotonin Summer,” a single that will most likely be titled “Nightmares,” and another song that will most likely be titled “Neoclassical,” according to Cui.
Last year, Jamsexual had been together as a full group for only two months when it performed at BC’s Best. It was also the band’s first time performing in public with bassist Michael McKane, MCAS ’25.
This time around, the band has been together for a year—and in that year, it has solidified what Jamsexual is all about.
“We realized what’s important, like the kinds of aspects that we want to bring to a show, you know,” Gabriel Biagi, lead singer and MCAS ’25, said. “We want to get people excited, get people enjoying what we’re doing, get people moving and get people engaged.”
“Nowhere to Go” and “Nice to Know You (Enjoy the Ride)” are Jamsexual’s newest singles, and the band will perform them both at BC’s Best in addition to one or two other new singles, according to Biagi.
The band, composed of McKane; Biagi; Patrick Kelly, guitarist and MCAS ’24; John Regis, guitarist and MCAS ’24; Ryan Barcy, keyboard player and MCAS ’25; and Michael Castellano, drummer and MCAS ’25; said it is looking forward to recording its music. Jamsexual’s long-time goal of releasing its music on streaming services will hopefully be met before each band member heads home for Summer Break, according to Biagi.
Uncommonwealth, a student band formed in 2020, will participate for its third and likely final time at this year’s edition of BC’s Best.
“This event has been one of the most important things for all of us in our BC careers and it may be coming to an end relatively soon because our bassist [Spencer Bono, CSOM’23] graduates this year, so it’s gonna be difficult to keep everyone together,” Ben Austen, guitarist and singer and MCAS ’24, said.
According to Austen, his freshman year in 2020 was a difficult time to meet people because of COVID-19 precautions. Austen recalled sitting alone outside, playing his guitar in the hope that someone would join him. Eventually, Cole Dumas, guitarist and MCAS ’24, and Tommy Lynn, lead singer, guitarist, and CSOM ’24 did. This was the start of Uncommonwealth.
During these last three years, Austen said Uncommonwealth has gone through ups and downs as a band, all of which have resulted in its strengthened bond. The band has taken a new turn in songwriting, leaning more toward hard rock and even experimenting with indie-pop, according to Austen.
For this year’s performance, the band will return to its first round of originals, including a fan favorite “Phoenix from Mars,” and play its newest single “What I Want,” released in February 2023.
“We really want to just use this as an opportunity to connect with all the fans that have given us support over the past three years, and you know, give them another memory of our band and the songs that they’ve come to know pretty well,” Austen said.
Blake Mongno, a singer-songwriter and WCAS ’23, has been singing her entire life. But it was during her sophomore year of high school that she started writing original songs, inspired by acoustic songwriters like Lizzy McAlpine, Taylor Swift, and Annika Bennett.
Six years later, under the indie folk genre, Mongno has dedicated her time outside of her communications and marketing career path to record and release her music on Spotify, TikTok, Youtube, and Instagram.
In April of 2022, Mongno released her single “Impression” on streaming services. But for her performance at BC’s Best, she will be singing unreleased songs that will be part of her upcoming EP, Impression, which will be released by the end of the semester.
Mongno describes her style as being an “acoustic singer-songwriter” and said she expects her performance at BC’s Best to have “lyrics that people will be able to relate to.”
Angus Williams, MCAS ’25, will immerse himself into his stage persona again for his performance as CARAMEL at BC’s Best. Having recently performed in a sold-out Conte Forum at intermission of ALC Showdown, CARAMEL has made sure that BC students have heard his name.
“I love performing,” CARAMEL said. “That’s one of my favorite things, to be in front of a group of people, bring them together and listen to work I’ve been practicing for a long time.”
CARAMEL also organized and performed in the Living in Color events during Black History Month that aimed to promote Black art on campus.
On April 16, the day of his birthday, the singer-songwriter released his first EP, Roadtrip: Seatbelt Warning, on all streaming services. The album is composed of his most popular single “GONE BY THE MORNING,” along with “007 ROMANCE (Hold On),” “SCHIZO,” and “HABITUAL.”
At BC’s Best, CARAMEL said will sing “GONE BY THE MORNING” and two unreleased songs that he said he wrote in high school and are very important to him: “Cool Thoughts”—the song title is not finalized—and “Human.”
Julia Piccard, a singer-songwriter and MCAS ’26, said she started writing songs during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, posting her music on TikTok and quickly gaining an audience that prompted her to continue making music.
Currently, her covers and originals are streaming on all platforms, including on Spotify as a verified artist with over 6,000 monthly listeners. She has accumulated experiences as a performer in her high school, at BC, and even at a The Red Room at Cafe 939 at Berklee College of Music on March 1.
“I’m most excited about the experience, honestly, and doing another performance at BC that isn’t just an open mic in the Rat,” Piccard said. “I think it’d be really cool to perform for a different demographic.”
Piccard has not finalized her setlist yet, but she said she will be performing mostly originals as well as her indie-folk version of Taylor Swift’s “Me!” which she released on Spotify on Dec. 23, 2022 and already has over 80,000 listens. She also said she will most likely play a Phoebe Bridgers cover.