Students packed War Memorial Gym last Saturday night for the university’s annual Donaroo concert, eagerly awaiting performances by the highly-anticipated headliner Ty Dolla $ign and the opening act, pop singer Elley Duhé.
Hours before the concert began, Campus Activities Board (CAB), the student group in charge of planning this event, jumped into action in War Memorial, working to make sure that the night went smoothly. CAB’s crew bustled here and there, organizing themselves into teams and giving each other directions, ready to make this year’s Donaroo run as seamlessly as possible.
Also amidst the frenzy were photographers, press, security personnel, sound and stage technicians, VarCity SF dancers (who also performed), and the artists themselves.
After students began entering the gym, USF student DJ JAXX T. began his opening set, getting the crowd amped for the rest of the night. JAXX T. was the winner of CAB’s DJ competition in February, which granted him an opening spot at Donaroo. His electrifying remixes of pop hits like Post Malone’s “rockstar” and new-school party anthems like “Mo Bamba” had everyone dancing right from the get-go.
Elley Duhé took the stage next and immediately hooked everyone with her incredible vocals and lively energy. She started by playing songs from her 2018 album “DRAGON MENTALITY,” including a bass-blasted version of “LOST MY MIND,” the hit opening track from the album.
Duhé finished her set with a bang with her two biggest songs to date, “Tie Me Down” and “Happy Now,” the latter of which she recorded with electro-pop superstar Zedd. (It has over 220,000 streams on Spotify.) “Happy Now” had the entire crowd belting out lyrics and waving their hands back and forth.
And then … the moment everyone was waiting for. Among the red and white strobe lights beating down on the crowd, girls screaming from the tops of shoulders, everyone with phones in hand, Ty Dolla $ign burst onto the stage singing Kanye West’s “Fade,” which he is featured on.
The night only got better from there, as Ty Dolla $ign performed a collection of his greatest hits. He started with “Saved,” his smooth, bouncy 2015 song with Bay Area legend E-40. After taking the slightest of breaks to splash water on the crowd and chant profane insults at R. Kelly, which received wild applause, Ty Dolla $ign played a slew of mega-hits including “It’s A Vibe” and “Or Nah.” He finished with pop song “Psycho” before grabbing his drummer’s cymbal and hucking it across the stage — the most emphatic of endings to a great night.
The response to Donaroo amongst students has been mostly positive, with praise for the musical acts, the stage setup and the general atmosphere of the concert. However, there have been some gripes, particularly with the length of Ty Dolla $ign’s performance.
“I wish Ty Dolla $ign was on for longer, especially because we waited so long … and he brought his friends with him to perform,” sophomore Sarah Naini said. “They were good, but we didn’t really go for them.”
The “friends” she’s referring to are various members of Taylor Gang Entertainment, Ty Dolla $ign’s record label, who performed songs intermittently throughout his set. Freshman Madison Roberts said, “In the moment, Ty Dolla $ign was really good, but I wish there hadn’t been as much build-up as there was for what ended up being a pretty short set.”
CAB is pleased with the experience they provided for students at this year’s Donaroo. “The turnout was very successful. We had amazing artists, all of them engaging with the crowd and keeping them hyped with their variety of performances,” said Charles Choi, member of CAB’s board. About 1,000 Donaroo tickets were sold this year, according to Choi.
Choi emphasized the tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes in putting on a show as large as Donaroo, but he noted that the event is first and foremost about engaging with students and creating a fun, memorable experience. “CAB is dedicated to providing enjoyment for the student community, and people usually only see the end product and not the behind-the-scenes work. But seeing students enjoy their time at Donaroo and having fun with the people around them makes all of the work that we do worth it, regardless of if it is seen or not.”
CAB is already looking ahead to next year’s Donaroo, and is preparing to offer students the best experience yet. Choi said, “We always try to improve year after year with Donaroo. We have and we will continue to keep bringing artists to Donaroo who the students can enjoy.”