Photo courtesy of Patrick Mills

Working with the Current Amidst a Pandemic

Nov. 7 was a beautiful day. The air buzzed with excitement as a stage was quickly set up on O'Neill Plaza, with various musical instruments arranged across it. Then, soundchecks began for what would be the first in-person concert on Boston College's campus this semester, hosted by BC Music Guild and Campus Activities Board (CAB).

To comply with COVID procedures, Music Guild closed off the space to limit the flow of people coming in and out, setting up chairs in specific spots to keep everyone socially distanced. The audience was limited to 50 people, each of whom had to reserve a seat for one of the two acts prior to the event and check-in at the entrance.

The first half of the showcase kicked off with BC band Sleepwalkers, who started off with covers of some familiar rock tunes like “Come Together” by The Beatles and the more chilled sounds of Tom Misch's “Movie” and “I Wish.”

Up next, singer-songwriters Kate Ginley, MCAS ‘23, and Adrianne Goodfriend, MCAS ‘23, enchanted the crowd with their beautiful voices. Both performed their own originals, including Ginley’s songs “High School Friends” and “Raspberries,” and Goodfriend’s pieces  “Lily-Rose Depp,” “Reservoir Song,” and “Bridges.”

With Gasson glowing under the warm light of the sun, the stage looked out to the visiting bronze sculpture “Angel Unawares.” Some passersby outside of the barriers walked by and went about their days, but others stopped to watch the show. A tour group cheered the musicians on and BC students sat outside of the library, listening to and appreciating the music.

The second act started off with freshman band Uncommonwealth, which performed several covers of iconic songs such as Billy Joel's “Movin’ Out” and Journey's “Don’t Stop Believin’.” The band had a commanding presence and the enthusiasm was electrifying throughout their set. 

The band Photonegative wrapped up the show, performing a combination of covers and originals. They showcased originals from their recent album A Great Big Hole in the Wall, and performed the crowd favorite “Whatever Floats Your Boat.” Many danced along, singing the familiar lyrics, bringing a sense of community to a socially distant venue. As the sun fell beneath the horizon and dark blue night faded into the crimson sky, there was no sound sweeter than the pumping bass and electric guitars.

“I don’t think that [the concert] could have gone any better,” said Matty Hogan, CSOM ‘22, who is president of BC Music Guild. “Everyone performed well and the audio quality was great. There were no hiccups with capacity and RSVP, and I think everyone had a good time. Going into it I was nervous, because there was a lot riding on it. This was the first live concert on campus since the coronavirus [pandemic]. At the actual show, when everything started to come together, it seems like everything was going to be fine.”

Adapting to coronavirus regulations, Music Guild was able to put on a successful concert, bringing together members of BC's campus in celebration of their members' hard work. “It shows that with great efforts you can still do events with COVID guidelines and safely for everyone. It’s a test of what can happen on campus during these hard times,” said Elliott Shin, MCAS ‘22 and Vice President of Music Guild.

Even though there was much disappointment at the beginning of the year that things could not go back to normal on campus this semester, this concert proved that fun can still be had, even if it required a little more precaution than usual.

“The shows that we put on [with Music Guild] are some of my favorite days at BC. I was very disheartened to hear that they might not happen,” Hogan said. “But as time went on, with more guidelines, it was easier to piece together the event.”

The journey to organizing the show was not easy. There was much discussion between the Office of Student Involvement and CAB about the concert, and determining an official date itself was a triumph in these complicated times. Additionally, Governor Charlie Baker announced a series of executive orders right before the show, mandating that outdoor gatherings were to be limited to 25 people. Luckily, the event was not impacted by the order.

Despite the unique and exclusive format of the show, it appears that the audience still enjoyed the time spent listening to their peer musicians. “I think it was very exciting to be able to have a concert especially during this difficult time,” said Music Guild E-board member Paola Rosario, MCAS ‘24. “I am a very big music fan and the fact that I can enjoy music live, it is amazing.” When asked about the performance's COVID guidelines, Rosario responded, “It was definitely strange to have the seat apart from each other, but as long as you are there to enjoy the music, it is a show!”

It is no small feat to put on a live concert during a pandemic, and this fall showcase could be the start of hosting events safely working alongside COVID restrictions. But ultimately, this speaks to the perseverance of our student musicians, who are determined to share their talents with the broader campus community in the face of a great challenge.

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