June 1, 2022

Highlander Pep Band surprises campus with hype song

UCR musicians reunite in an unsuspected (and loud) way

Author: Malinn Loeung
June 1, 2022

Imagine you’re sitting in class on a random Thursday morning, listening to your chemistry professor, and then a 15-piece band bursts in the room blasting the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis throwback hit, “Can’t Hold Us” — but the tuba, symbols, trumpet, and flute version.

If you were on campus on May 18, you didn’t have to imagine it because it happened in real life — and the UC Riverside Highlander Pep Band filled random locations around campus with music while a camera crew filmed crowd reactions.

Not only did they surprise that chem classroom at the Student Success Center, but they also played for weight lifters and rock climbers at the Student Recreation Center, socializers at the HUB and Bell Tower, dancers and actors from CHASS, diners at The Barn, and even studiers at the Tomas Rivera Library. (That one was super awkward.)

Watch video of UCR Highlander Pep Band performing around campus while Scotty skydives.


The pep band has been around for over 30 years, and they’ve been through many reorganizations. Originally composed of the UCR Jazz Band and musically inclined community members, the band was almost disbanded in 2000 due to a sudden lack of interest and support. It also took a 2-year pandemic break, before recently reuniting in spring 2022 to jumpstart rehearsals. The goal is to bring music, spirit, and pep back to campus events, like basketball and volleyball games as early as fall 2022.

Visit the UCR Highlander Pep Band website to learn more about this student organization and how you can perform with them.

The lyrics to the song played throughout campus on May 18 aren’t just an anthem to the band’s story, but a reminder to the UCR campus that through these challenging past couple of pandemic-themed years:

This is the moment.

Tonight is the night; we'll fight 'til it's over.

So we put our hands up.

Like the ceiling can't hold us!

Thank you to the wonderful students, faculty, and staff at Tomás Rivera Library, Student Success Center, Student Recreation Center, Highlander Union BuildingCHASS, and The Barn for letting us disrupt your day with some Highlander spirit.

Media Contacts