Three years ago, Bullstock posters were printed without the time of the event listed. Last year, approximately 4,000 concertgoers had to share one Port-a-Potty during the day-long festival. If there’s one thing Campus Activities Board (CAB) members have learned from organizing the music festival over the years, it’s this: prepare for obstacles of all kinds.
“Last year, I remember we did not have dressing rooms,” said Tasha Brunson, CAB executive director. “We ended up calling an RV company and using four RVs as dressing rooms, and you know what? It worked. Last year, we also didn’t have Port-a-Potties. There was just one, and I think it was there because construction was going on in the area. We had ordered some, but they never showed up. You can plan all you want, but some things happen and you just have to learn to roll with the punches.”
Keeping in mind the challenges they’ve faced in the past, event organizers have braced themselves for any issues that may develop before – or even during – Saturday’s Bullstock V. This year, the posters have been doubled-checked and dressing rooms have been set up at both the Campus Recreation Center and Wingate Inn on Fowler Avenue.
Just as CAB has to remain flexible in order to accommodate last-minute demands and changes, Bullstock itself has become a sort of chameleon, morphing each year to find better ways to connect with the student body.
Students were surveyed this year at a variety of CAB events – including Movies on the Lawn and Patio Tuesdays – to find out which bands the student body would most like to see. Once the list of potential artists was narrowed down, CAB had to contact the acts and find out whose schedules would allow them to perform at Bullstock. From there, Jack’s Mannequin and Head Automatica were selected.
“In order to get food (at our events), you had to take a survey. We were all over the place,” said Erin Robinson, CAB concert director. “If you were around the Marshall Center, chances are you took the survey.”
In its early days, Bullstock was held on Crescent Hill, featuring local and regional bands as well as nonmusical attractions, such as a petting zoo. When the event outgrew its arena, it moved to Fowler Field.
“Just to show you how we’ve grown over the years, the Bullstock logo (on our second year poster) has the (USF) ‘U’ but it’s kind of rounded and sickly looking, and we forgot to put the time on the posters, so we had to write it in on all of our ads,” Brunson said. “Now our ads have a more professional look.”
As Bullstock’s popularity increased, so did the caliber of acts that CAB could afford to include. The litany of smaller bands soon gave way to headlining acts such as Vertical Horizon, Story of the Year and Twista.
In an effort to reach out to a variety of students on campus, Bullstock IV diversified its musical acts so that it could include three genres instead of one: rock, hip hop and reggae. This created a sort of revolving door of fans, in which people would stay for acts that fell under their preferred genre of music and leave when other groups took the stage.
Though the multi-genre approach may have kept crowds to a manageable size, CAB decided to shift the focus of this year’s Bullstock back to its original roots – a festival of rock-infused music in the same vein as the similarly titled Woodstock concerts.
“When you think of a concert, you think you’re just listening to music and that’s it. But what we’re trying to do is transform Bullstock into a sort of festival,” Brunson said. “People can tie-dye shirts, paint sun catchers, play games and do all sorts of stuff. No matter who you are – even if you aren’t into the music or you’re not familiar with these bands, there’s something for you to enjoy.”
Staying true to its festival theme, Bullstock V will feature two stages of acts, surrounding fans with music throughout the day. Caramel apples, snow cones and a variety of other carnival-esque foods will also be provided – and all for free.
Bullstock begins at 12:45 p.m. Saturday and Jack’s Mannequin will take the stage after Head Automatica around 5:45 p.m. For more information, check out CAB’s Web site at ctr.usf.edu/cab.