On Monday, USC students celebrated the 10th annual Conquest in McCarthy Quad. The tradition highlighted Trojan spirit and athletics as USC prepares to play crosstown rival UCLA on Saturday. The event, which featured a carnival and concert headlined by platinum-selling artist Jason Derulo, was hosted by the USC Concerts Committee in conjunction with Undergraduate Student Government and the Office of Campus Activities. The event was open to all students free of charge.
Heather McDonald, a comedienne and USC alumna, co-hosted the event along with fellow comedian and actor Steve Rannazzisi. They led the crowd in introducing USC athletic teams, along with announcements of events during the night. At one point during the night, the event experienced technical difficulties in the traditional burning of a Bruin bear effigy. After a few minutes, however, the crowd began a new countdown and the wooden bear exploded into fireworks and a bonfire in front of Doheny Memorial Library. A fireworks display, featuring USC-colored cardinal and gold fireworks, lit up the sky for several minutes.
“That bear is burning and these girls are burning a lot of calories,” McDonald joked. “There’s like 25 teams here.”
The Trojan Marching Band also performed alongside the Song Girls and Spirit Leaders. Along with celebrating the 10th year of Conquest, this year also marks 125 years of Trojan athletics and 45 years since the introduction of the Song Girls into USC events.
Planning for the event proved to be more complicated than usual since the UCLA rivalry game falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Concerts Committee, however, was able to work around the event this year by changing the concert from Thursday, when it is usually hosted, to Monday. Concerts Committee also faced a tough decision in picking a performer.
“It is impossible to pick an artist that makes everybody happy but the committee considers the variety of tastes among the student body. Any USC student is welcome to attend our meetings [on Monday nights] and offer input and suggestions for who to bring to perform at USC,” said Alison Wotton, the co-assistant director of Program Board Concerts.
Some students felt that Jason Derulo was not the most appropriate choice given that many of his most popular songs are from several years ago.
“USC is amazing in that we have a concert Monday night. But we could have had somebody more relevant,” said Natalie Li, a freshman majoring in biology. She added, however, that “Whatcha Say” was her favorite Jason Derulo song. “I’m glad he played that one,” she said.
Many students enjoyed other aspects of the event besides the concert. “I’m enjoying the spirit and the food. And Jason of course,” said Elli Wang, a freshman majoring in environmental studies.
The food trucks proved to be a particularly popular aspect of the event.
“I’m happy they have food trucks here and I’m happy about the Jason Derulo concert. My friends have been talking a lot about it,” said Megan Joseph, a freshman majoring in computer engineering and computer science.
The concert opened with DJ Papo, billed as the official DJ for Jason Derulo. He played remixes as the crowd waited for Derulo, who came on stage and opened his set with “In My Head.” He played a variety of his songs throughout his time onstage, including crowd favorites “Whatcha Say” and “Marry Me.”
Students said they enjoyed the music more as the night went on.
“I think he’s a smooth dancer,” said Linyan Tian, a freshman majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “He’s super charismatic and he’s just as good in person as he is in the studio.”
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