USF’s annual spring music festival, Donaroo, was met with excitement as the beloved Campus Activities Board (CAB) tradition returned in person for the first time since 2020 on March 5. After last year’s virtual festival, Saturday’s live performance included artists DJ Muze, VarCity dance team, and co-headliners E-40 and P-Lo.
For sophomore CAB member Gabrielle Liu, it was satisfying to watch the event play out. “It felt very rewarding to see the event be successful because after all, this was made for our fellow students,” said Liu. “Having fun during the event made everything worth working during the long hours.”
As attendees entered War Memorial Gym at the Sobrato Center, they were greeted with posters from past Donaroo performances and bright, multicolored lights. The photo booth, which ran all night, was a popular attraction complete with props and a neon sign that read “Good Vibes Only.”
Student DJ Anthony Musleh, who performed under the stage name “DJ Muze,” kicked off the evening with an electric set. Musleh, a freshman business entrepreneurship and innovation major, landed the coveted Donaroo gig after winning a DJ competition hosted by CAB in early February.
“DJing at Donaroo was such a cool experience,” Musleh said. “The crowd was great and I got to watch the other performers who did an amazing job. Seeing P-Lo and E-40 on stage together was such a fun and cool experience. It was an honor to see both of them!” DJ Muze warmed up the crowd by putting his own unique spin on popular songs like Sheck Wes’s “Mo Bamba” and “Heartless” by Kanye West.
Immediately following DJ Muze was a performance by USF’s hip-hop dance team VarCity. Attendees couldn’t peel their eyes away from the teams’ bright, neon outfits and elaborate choreography. “I remember seeing VarCity perform at Dons Night Out during first semester and thinking how much fun it’d be to perform with them, so it was super exciting to be a part of that experience at Donaroo,” said Frances Lynch, a freshman member of VarCity. “It was the debut of our new set and seeing all of our hard work pay off was such an exciting moment.”
The first headliner to go on was P-Lo, an East Bay rapper and producer with hit songs such as “Put Me on Something” and “same squad.” P-Lo’s strong stage presence was established by his energetic performance and regular engagement with the audience. He asked those from the Bay Area and California to “make some noise” when he sang about local pride, which was a constant theme throughout his set.
As he performed, shots of San Francisco flashed on the screen behind him with different colored filters and “P-Lo” in bold, block letters. Kendall Griffis, a freshman psychology major, said, “Donaroo definitely exceeded my expectations. Overall, P-Lo was my favorite performer of the night.”
E-40 closed out the festival with a performance to remember. With over 3 million monthly Spotify listeners, E-40 is a Bay Area legend who has been a prolific rapper and producer in the hip-hop scene since the mid-1990s. At one point during his set, E-40 said to the crowd, “You may know these songs because of your parents,” and played throwback hits such as his remix of “I Got 5 on it” which made the already animated crowd go wild.
“He performed a lot of songs that I had listened to in the past but didn’t realize he had been featured on,” said freshman computer science major Esha Dupungutla. “My favorite part of the night was when he sang ‘I Don’t F*ck With You.’ People were really into it and you could feel the energy.” To revisit their past collaboration, E-40 and P-Lo performed their 2021 song “Big Steppin” together to wrap up the night.
A contagious, buzzing excitement was still in the air as students exited the gym after the final number. The event gave students the opportunity to experience live music together and connect with one another face-to-face, something that was previously lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I loved seeing everyone connect, form a friendship, and overall have fun together,” said Liu, “We often see each other in school, but never really have the time to pause and really bond.”