Spark 2017

Nick Jonas performing

Pop star Nick Jonas headlined Spark in the Park Saturday night at Harrison Field. (Photo: UIC Creative and Digital Services)

Zhivan Robinson shed a lot of tears Saturday night in Harrison Field.

But they were the happy kind. She was filled with emotion after watching one of her favorite pop stars, Nick Jonas, perform during Spark in the Park, the annual free concert for the UIC community.

“I ended up crying so hard just from being at the concert, so I was very happy with my night,” said Robinson, a junior in mathematics and statistics.

DRAM performing

Rapper, singer and songwriter DRAM performs at Spark. (Photo: UIC Creative and Digital Services)

Robinson was among students who won passes to watch the show from a VIP area, then meet the pop singer and shake his hand.

“His hand was so soft,” she said. “I wanted to say that I loved his music but everything in my mind like slipped away when he spoke to me,” she said. “We got to take our picture together and he was so nice and smelled so good.”

Loreal Davis said most students at the VIP meet-and-greet event were working hard to keep their emotions in check before they met Jonas.

“Some of us were crying, some smiling uncontrollably,” said Davis, a junior in public health. “But it was so surreal to finally shake his hand and be in his presence. Not because he’s a celebrity, but because he’s influenced me with his music for years, and it was such a great experience to meet the person who made some of my favorite music.”

The show also featured rapper, singer and songwriter DRAM, along with student acts DJ CeaseDays, winner of this year’s DJ Battle, and Battle of the Bands winner LETTUCEHEAD. The event was sponsored by the Center for Student Involvement, Student Activities Board and UIC Radio.

“The concert was amazing,” Davis said. “Both Nick Jonas and DRAM were great live, and they really interacted with the crowd. I also found two new artists to listen to — DJ CeaseDays and LETTUCEHEAD were great, I loved their sound. It was a great vibe and love in the air. I was glad to see so many different kinds of people there and just having a good time.”

Lettucehead drummer

Openers included Battle of the Bands winner LETTUCEHEAD. (Photo: Amod Mahadik)

Students enjoyed the concert’s return to Harrison Field this year, after being moved indoors to the UIC Pavilion since 2014 because of Jane Byrne Interchange construction. About 2,700 students attended this year’s event.

“Students have shared that they feel like they got to attend a music festival with a great show free of charge,” said Allen Womble, associate director of the Center for Student Involvement. “Students seem to love both the fact that this year both artists played with live bands instead of just a DJ, and they loved that Nick Jonas sung both his recent hits like “Close” and some old favorites from his time with the Jonas Brothers — songs that they remember fondly from their younger years.”

Spark lets students take a break and have fun during the beginning of the semester, Davis said.
“Events like this really make us feel like even though we have papers and math homework, our university wants us to feel appreciated and like we can have fun,” she said. “I think it’s a great chance to meet other students who have similar interest and taste as you. I truly appreciate the opportunity.”

crowd at Spark in the Park

UIC students gathered at Harrison Field to watch the free concert. (Photo: Amod Mahadik)

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