Eleventh annual bonfire brings out thousands

The concert featured We The Kings and Travis Porter.


Pierce Herrmann | Staff Photographer

Students watched the bonfire ignite after We The Kings and Travis Porter played. Pierce Herrmann | Staff Photographer

Nimisha Rajendran, Contributing Writer

Over 3,000 students filed onto the Housing Lawn Friday night as colored lights flashed and music blared for the annual fall bonfire.


To increase school spirit ahead of football season, guest speakers like head football coach Lane Kiffin and President John Kelly made an appearance. There were also musical performances by rock group We The Kings and hip-hop trio Travis Porter.


The Homecoming theme “Atlantic Awakens,” a play on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” was announced as well, as well as the headliners of this year’s OwlFest: Juicy J and 21 Savage.


Richard Mahler, Student Activities and Involvement assistant director, said this year’s bonfire saw hundreds more in attendance compared to the last bonfire when rapper Yung Joc headlined. Last year’s event had 2,200-2,400 students in the crowd while this year, over 3,000 students attended.


Mahler said Friday night’s bonfire cost $60,000-$70,000, while the 2017 event came in around $40,000. This stemmed from the fact that both We the Kings and Travis Porter are more recognizable artists compared to last year’s performers.


Excitement continued to build throughout the night as the various announcements were made, and Kiffin hyped up the crowd ahead of the home game against Air Force, which FAU won 33-26.


The crowd’s energy only increased from there when We The Kings took the stage. The rock group, founded in Bradenton, Florida, played its hit song “Check Yes Juliet,” among other singles. Afterward, Travis Porter performed several hits, as well as “Ayy Ladies,” through 9:30 p.m.  

First performance of the night by rock band We The Kings. Photo by Alex Liscio


Travis Porter took the stage next, and prepared the crowd for the bonfire. Photo by Pierce Herrmann

The grand finale included the lighting of a large bonfire with an owl and a football sculpture at the top in the center of the Housing Lawn.

Owlsley celebrates as the owl football sculpture burns. Photo by Alex Liscio

Before the event started, the University Press sat down with We The Kings frontman Travis Clark to talk about everything from football to his college experience at the University of Central Florida.

The UP sat down with We The Kings frontman Travis Clark. Photo by Pierce Herrmann

UP: First off, we know you guys are Florida natives, so welcome back! How does it feel to be playing a home gig?


CLARK: Well, we drove here. We kind of moved a couple different places but there’s something about Florida that always brings you back. I lived in LA for eight years while the band was touring, and decided that home was where my family and friends were, and it was just more the person I was. Everytime I get to play a Florida show, it’s a little more special to me because I see myself in all the fans that come out.


UP: So we’re on a campus that boasts a Division I college football team, do you guys follow any football teams? Do you have any favorites?


CLARK: Yes, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton is our favorite football team.


UP: I was going to say you didn’t have to say it but thanks for that!


CLARK: Well, I went to UCF for about half a semester before the band got signed, so I will claim that I’m a UCF alumni. But I really like college football in general, there’s something so exciting about the youth of it compared to NFL games. There’s more pride and loyalty in college football.


UP: Speaking of pride and loyalty, you talked about going to UCF. If you could go back and major in anything what would it be?


CLARK: I think about this a lot actually. I love playing colleges because I get to live vicariously through everyone that’s coming out, but I always loved learning. I was actually passionate about going to class, which might sound weird for the typical “rockstar,” but I really love the idea of learning and progressing as a human being. So if I could go back, I would love to do poetry or writing, or anything along the arts really.


UP: Now, there is a whole generation of kids who lived and died by “Check Yes Juliet.” What does it feel like knowing that?


CLARK: It’s weird. The song wasn’t even going to be on the record, I wrote it after the record had been completed. I begged my manager and the label to put it on the record and it ended up becoming everything that We The Kings was able to become. As a songwriter, we are more than one song, but I won’t be blind to the fact that certain songs connect with people. It’s really special because when we play it 10 years later, it still holds its value to those people, whether it’s nostalgic value or “This song is just awesome and stands the test of time.”


UP: Finally, you recently posted on your Instagram about how you learned to be happy. Since this is a campus full of college kids still figuring things out, I was wondering if you had any advice about finding happiness within your circumstances?


CLARK: My dad actually gave me the best advice about 14 years ago. I was in a moment of my life, where I was being bullied and I turned to music as an outlet. I was able to listen to all these songs that got me through a lot. I think no matter what you do, you should let it be your truth and your story. If you’re going after things you’re passionate about and things that resonate with you, then I don’t think you can do wrong.

Nimisha Rajendran is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or any other stories, email [email protected].