Last Monday, the Campus Activities Board (CAB) hosted USF students in the War Memorial Gym at the Sobrato Center for their annual Dons Night Out welcome back concert. On the night before the first day of classes each year, students get the opportunity to listen to live music, dance away their nerves, and reunite with classmates before starting the fall semester.
This year’s aesthetic spoke to the indie-rock scene that’s very present here on campus, and in the greater San Francisco area. “We know that the music scene here is really good for what we have, so we decided to go with indie-rock as that would resonate a lot with the students”, said Leah Possick, who serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for CAB. The board puts on events all year to bring life to campus and engage with students by providing opportunities for relaxation and fun during the grueling routine of the academic year. “We understand that this is a campus where a lot of people like to go out and explore the city, but they also have an opportunity to still come here and have fun,” said Leah in hopes that Dons will walk away knowing they can count on CAB to have even more fun throughout the year.
When searching for what talent to bring to the stage, the CAB members didn’t have to search too hard to get what they were looking for. The three bands that performed were all local, small indie punk-rock bands, and one of them was made up entirely of USF students.
Kirori, who opened the show that night, is led by Kio Nino and Josias Acosta, both Junior business majors here at USF. Alongside them played Rob Doll and Julian Bailey, both current Sophomores.
This isn’t the first time Kirori has showcased their talent on campus. In the past they have played for KUSF events like Final Jam, which happens at the end of every spring semester. When asked how they felt playing a larger- scale event like Dons Night Out: “It’s really exciting, especially for incoming first year students,” said Kio, as she recalled how nervous she felt starting at USF for the first time, “If I could see myself do this now as a first-year, that would just be an awesome accomplishment.” The band hopes that their presence inspires students looking to pursue music to come together and follow in their footsteps, or eventually join them onstage. “You can do anything you put your mind to,” said Josias, “follow your dreams… and our instagram @Kiroriband.” Josias joked.
Dons attending the event flocked to the barricade when Kiori came out to do their soundcheck, and the band started their set welcoming everyone, new and returning, back to the hilltop.
The night really took off as music started to fill the Sobrato Center and students started to dance together, gather their friends for a photo booth flick, try their hand at cornhole and connect four, or have a go in the giant inflatable unicorn ball pit, which was making its majestic comeback since pre-pandemic Dons Night Out in Fall 2019.
“That’s what we’re most excited about,” said Lina, Maggie, and Lisa, all new third-year transfer students coming from a community college in Ventura County, “we heard there was a ball pit and were sold.”
Many Dons came to the event dressed for the theme, especially sophomores Tsaundor and Katie who were rocking matching fishnet tights to hit the punk nail on the head. They came out to have some fun before jumping back into classes. When asked if they were nervous about starting another year at the hilltop, Tusandor said: “I know what’s going on and how to get around campus. I’m excited to get into it.”
While some students were bumping to the music, others took a beat to sit down and relax in the provided lounging spaces nearby the stage. Many first-year students were in attendance, like Victoria, who said it felt “unreal” to be starting college classes for the first time.
The other two bands, High Sunn and Paradise Blossom, closed out the night with their performances really solidifying the connections being made between students. They each played original tracks and engaged with the crowd between songs to keep the intimate vibe going. Although the energy in the room was very low-key, it felt very special as everyone was engaged with each other and having a good time moshing and dancing together.
“I’ve been listening to their music all day to prepare for tonight,” said Andrea, a first-year student who was attending with her friend Leah. Both were very excited to see High Sunn perform, and to be a part of the good environment for the night, “our favorite song is Ramen Waitress, we hope they play it!”
And play it they did. At the end of their set, High Sunn announced that they were going to embark on their first national tour this fall, and encouraged everyone to come out to their SF date at Cafe Du Nord on October 11th, where they will perform again with Paradise Blossom and other artists.
Students headed out of the gym with high spirits, photostrips in hand, and arms covered in temporary tattoos to commemorate the lasting memories from the night, ready to take on the new year ahead.