By Rayna Leigh
The hype was high on Friday as students gathered in one of USF’s parking lots for the university’s annual Bullstock Music Festival. The coronavirus pandemic halted the live festival for two years (2021 saw a virtual “remixed” Bullstock), but 2022 came back with a stacked bill of acts from the local Tampa music scene, as well as nostalgic national names from the auts.
The festival opened with the audience-choice winners of USF’s Battle of the Bands: Hybris. A high-energy new rock band, the five-piece band came alive with a blend of classic covers and original music. Lead singer Jose ran across the stage, wielding his microphone stand like a classic 80s frontman as he belted Bon Jovi’s “Runaway”, and had the crowd chanting along to their interactive rendition of “I Love Rock n Roll”, made famous by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Following Hybris was mokatheband, a three-piece indie project and the winners of the judges-choice award at USF’s Battle of the Bands. Witty banter and airy energy, coupled with fan-favorite covers such as Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” and the throwback hit “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry had the audience singing each word alongside Karina Jose.
Dreamers, an alternative pop-rock trio from New York, took the stage next, and the energy amplified immediately. Hundreds of students sang “Misfits T-shirt” back to the band, and quickly picked up on the melodies on the other songs. Their Bullstock performance marks a step back into performing after being dormant from the stage for the better part of two years.
“This is kinda like connecting us back to our old life, but it makes us excited about the future,” said lead singer Nick Wold to TBMN.
Hot off the TikTok trending pages, pop star Olivia O’Brien brought the modern flair for unapologetic young-adult anthems. At just 22 years old, O’Brien is the youngest co-headliner to perform at Bullstock, and the performance marks her first trip to Tampa. Her hit songs “I Hate U, I Love U” and “Josslyn” had the crowd chanting, and cheering her on as she flaunted her explicit songs against the university’s requests.
Finally, synth-pop headliners Neon Trees electrified the night, throwing back nostalgic chart-toppers like “Animal”, a cover of the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, and their iconic “Everybody Talks”. Lead singer Tyler Glenn stood atop the speaker stacks and spoke to the students, encouraging them to embrace their individuality and the process of finding their identities. In a show-stopper moment, and in a show of defiance against Florida’s new law, he raised his arms to the crowd and shouted “Can I say gay? Because I am GAY!” The cheers were loud, proud, and supportive.
Dreamers band can be found at their website https://www.dreamersuniverse.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DREAMERSuniverse
Olivia O’Brien can be found at her website http://www.oliviaobrienmusic.com/
Neon Trees can be found at https://www.neontrees.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/neoYNAn.trees