New day, location for Spark

Next week, a free concert comes to Harrison Field.

Spark in the Park, the university’s free annual show for the campus community, returns Sept. 9 to its outdoor location at Harrison Field, 866 W. Harrison St. This year’s lineup features Nick Jonas and DRAM.

“Spark in the Park is an important welcome back tradition,” said Allen Womble, associate director of the Center for Student Involvement, which sponsors the event in collaboration with the Student Activities Board and UIC Radio. Past headliners have included Travis Scott, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, twenty one pilots, Childish Gambino and Frankie Knuckles.

This year, Spark’s prime location and date change make the event stand out. At the request of students, the event will take place outside. Since 2014, performances have been held in the UIC Pavilion because of construction related to the Jane Byrne Interchange project.

Organizers hope the location and date change — the event traditionally was held on a Thursday — will encourage students to attend.

“We’re giving people a unique experience,” said Pedro Gonzalez, a senior and member of the marketing committee for Spark. “This year’s lineup reflects the school’s diversity.”

Also new this year is a collaboration with DePaul. As many as 500 students from DePaul can purchase tickets for attend Spark in the Park, and 500 UIC students will have the chance to buy tickets for DePaul’s annual concert in the spring.

“Student involvement offices across the Chicagoland campuses have intentionally come together to strategically utilize resources to bolster each other’s events and provide the broadest portfolio of events to our students,” Womble said. “This strategic partnership also meets the Student Affairs division and the overall university’s goal of creating more synergy with the greater Chicago community in a way that enhances the student experience and campus life at UIC.”

Pop singer Jonas gained worldwide attention during his time as a Disney Channel star and for his role in the Jonas Brothers, a boy band he formed with his two older brothers. Together, they recorded four studio albums that sold more than 17 million copies before their split in 2013. In 2014, he released a self-titled album, “Nick Jonas,” featuring the hit singles “Jealous” and “Chains,” which both landed in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. “Nick Jonas X2,” a re-release, included the song “Levels” and new tracks. “Last Year was Complicated” is his latest solo album. Debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, the album includes the lead single “Close” and songs featuring Tove Lo, Ty Dolla $ign and Big Sean.

Rapper, singer and songwriter DRAM will perform before Jonas. The Virginia native, who released his debut studio album, “Big Baby DRAM,” in 2016, is known for his songs “Cha Cha,” “The Uber Song” and “Cute.” His breakout single “Broccoli” received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in February.

Openers include student acts DJ CeaseDays, the winner of this year’s DJ Battle, and Battle of the Bands winner LETTUCEHEAD.

“We’re excited to see this event come to fruition,” Womble said.

Gates open for the event at 4 p.m. and performances begin at 5:30 p.m. A valid UIC i-card is required for free admission, but i-card holders can also bring one guest for $30. Alumni can buy tickets for $25.

Visit or follow the Center for Student Involvement Facebook page to win VIP passes.

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