Vocal chords were shot, bodies were left sore from dancing, and two bras were thrown at Donaroo on Saturday.
This year the Campus Activity Board (CAB) invited alternative rock sibling duo, The Driver Era to headline the Hilltop’s annual concert. Compton-based rapper Buddy opened the show along with the two-time winner of CAB’s student DJ competition, DJ Muze.
According to some Lone Mountain East residents, screaming could be heard all the way across campus when The Driver Era stepped on stage. Brothers Ross and Rocky Lynch emerged in red lighting along with their backing band toting electric guitars and broad smiles. With matching bejeweled cowboy hats — a hand crafted gift from CAB — they sailed through their newest album, “Summer Mixtape.” Cowboy hats are recurring features at Driver Era concerts — fans often bring them for the duo to wear on stage.
The Hilltop practically melted as a collective as students screamed “I love you Ross,” and the room boomed with chants for Rocky, the more introverted of the duo. Several times throughout their set, The Driver Era used covers as bridges in their songs. High-energy “Heart of Mine” had a brief but groovy interlude with “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” originally performed by Drake, and “Malibu” was paired with Ginuwine’s sultry “Pony.” Every so often, Ross would dip into the pit and hug his mom, who watched proudly from the front row.
Though doors opened at 6:30 p.m., students were camped outside of the entrance in their best outfits as early as 5:00 p.m. CAB sold over 1,000 tickets for the show, nearly twice the size of last year’s Donaroo.
Wearing a cowboy hat, first-year computer science major Aria Srivasta was among the first to arrive at the War Memorial gym with her friends. Srivasta pointed to her friends as being the main reason for arriving so early. “They’re huge fans. Huge fans,” she said as her friends giggled in embarrassment.
As soon as the doors opened, people ran with their friends to secure spots close to the stage.
Fourth-year sociology major Destiny Camarillo was in the front row wearing a delicate, silver tiara for her birthday. The Driver Era was her second most listened to artist on her Apple Music Replay, and she was beaming. “The Driver Era is literally my favorite band. I’ve been a huge Ross fan since his Twitter brunette era in 2017.” When asked how she felt having The Driver Era at USF, she declared, “It feels like the best birthday gift ever.”
The show’s openers heightened the already buoyant energy in the room.
Students learned the electric slide with Buddy, who opened the event. Stumbling over each other, students slid from side to side, ad libbing “Go Buddy, go Buddy go!” in harmony. “Thank you for the love,” Buddy said to the crowd in between songs.
DJ Muze, also known as second-year finance major Donny Musleh, was the winner of CAB’s student DJ competition and opened for the show for the second year in a row. Playing a mix of contemporary songs from genres ranging from hip hop to house, DJ Muze warmed the crowd up for a night of fun. The crowd broke into dance when they heard songs like Lil Uzi Vert’s “Just Wanna Rock” and Lil Jon’s “Snap Yo Fingers.”
During a phone interview the next day, Musleh said that he loved being in a room where everybody “just wants to have a good time and share live music.”
USF’s dance team,VarCity, gave an electric performance in between sets. “I am thankful to CAB for getting artists that I admire to be here,” said second-year media studies major Laura Stevenson after her first performance with VarCity. “When Buddy walked by and said, ‘Y’all ate’ I was like ‘OMG.’ It’s really special to be recognized by a bigger talent.”
In between spells of dancing and posting Instagram stories, students lined up to pose with friends in CAB’s sparkly photo booth.
For some, this was their very last chance to experience Donaroo before they graduate. Emily Marcelino, a fourth-year nursing major, danced the night away with her friends for the last time at USF. “It’s really bittersweet,” she said. “I love just being together since we’re all seniors. It’s really sad leaving, but I’ve had the best time here.”
After the show, fans waited outside of the gym in front of The Driver Era’s van, cheering for them as they walked out. Their screams echoed throughout campus, marking the end of a fun evening before the start of midterms.