“It’s definitely not your normal theme,” said Sam Arabian, speaking to the environment of the undercaf. “Honestly, there’s not much reading the room you can do here. It takes a lot of guts to just go out there and be yourself.”
Arabian, a local SF club promoter, helped judge the DJ competition hosted by the USF Campus Activities Board (CAB) on Feb. 3 to determine the opener of their annual music festival, Donaroo.
Arabian was right. While the undercaf has hosted shows before, the dim, miniature companion to the university cafeteria is more suited for a chat with friends over lattes or to churn out a few discussion posts in between classes.
But the room, packed to the brim and exceeding the turnout expected by Aryanna Bragado, the Late Nights director for CAB, showed that a seated crowd and relaxed atmosphere were no match for the participants in CAB’s DJ Competition. The crowd of students, both purposeful attendees and those with Canvas open wondering why the music was so loud, were given plenty of reasons to stand up and dance.
From the opening horns of Lil’ Nas X’s “Industry Baby,” the crowd was given a display of the best disc jockeys USF has to offer. Second-year engineering major Daniel Marino Matthews, going by stage name Danielion, began his set with the aforementioned song, kicking off the tournament with a bang.
Ramón Ayala, a graduate student going by DJ Ramón, played a mix of Bay Area favorites that got the crowd moving in their seats. DJ Zen, senior Kai Jacobs, stuck to his specialty, mixing the deep house tracks he would play at events in his hometown of Spokane, Washington.
Despite the amount of talent that performed on the undercaf stage, it was Anthony Musleh, aka DJ Muse, who stole the show, combining impressive mixing skills with a selection of songs the audience knew every word to. Musleh’s personal support section, including his father who was a professional DJ in the 1990s, took up nearly ten seats in the back of the venue.
Attendees cheered for every track DJ Muse played, with half the room standing up and dancing when he closed out his set with Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” The crowd favorite left the stage to massive applause, and the panel of judges didn’t need to spend much time deliberating.
CAB President Jacob Zucker’s announcement of the winner was a foregone conclusion. “Anthony did a really great job and totally deserved the opening spot,” said Jasper Tay, a former USF student who won the competition as Jaxx T in 2019. Tay currently DJs in the city running his collective Sorry Not Sorry, and mentioned Musleh had an “amazing track selection from house music to hip-hop.”
Students at USF will get the chance to see DJ Muse perform when he hits the stage next month as the opening act for Donaroo.