This was what I call starting the semester off right!

As you may have heard these past few weeks, UIC has been looking forward to its annual free concert #SparkUIC since the last leg of the summer. Yesterday, it proved it was able to ignite UIC students once again with one of its most diverse lineups yet.

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To start off the night, UIC’s very own 2015 Battle of the Bands winner, TanZen, performed with an energizing, head-banging spectacle.

Following TanZen was R&B artist Wale, who pumped up the crowd even more with his lively performance (not to mention, hoverboarding around the stage and being held up by the audience as he rapped).

To wrap up the night, Twenty One Pilots came out to prove themselves worthy as Spark headliner with their genre-bending alternative music.

While the band, composed of lead singer/guitarist/pianist/ukulele-ist Tyler Joseph, and drummer/trumpeter/back flipper Josh Dun, has been around for a few years and is widely loved by their fans, their reveal as headliner of Spark took much of UIC’s demographic as a surprise. Without a doubt, many Spark-goers asked themselves (and the Spark Facebook page) “who is Twenty One Pilots?”

The band formed back in 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. It originally consisted of Tyler, as well as a couple other college friends. Eventually, the others had to leave the band. Tyler was later joined by Josh to create the TØP we know today.

In terms of musical styles, the band is hard to define. While they do fall in the rock category primarily, they are also known to seamlessly flow into pop, emo, hip-hop, and even the occasional reggae sound in their songs. They even change tempos every other time change, as they put it in one of their songs.

An “old friend” (as Tyler and Josh put it) of the band, and fellow UIC Radio team member, Pearl Shin was delighted to have one of her favorite bands headlining Spark.

“Twenty One Pilots?!” said Shin, “They were incredible! TØP is my favorite bands and I was ecstatic to find out that they were the headliners for Spark 2015. Tyler and Josh have an incredible stage presence that demands your attention. I think that having TØP perform at Spark was a great start to a new era of Spark that welcomes a diverse variety of genres to UIC.”

The band came on stage wearing masks, hiding their identities. Josh took his place at his drum set, breaking out into a fast-paced beat, while a disguised Joseph followed and grabbed a dangling mic and immediately began rapping into it. The crowd of excited fans sang along to the chorus “Can you save my heavydirty soul/ from me?” as Tyler dashed over to play piano.

This is the beginning of their world tour for their recent album, Blurryface, just released this past May. This album is following their first full-length album Vessel, released in 2012.

Following “HeavyDirtySoul,” the duo performed one of their first singles for Blurryface, titled “Stressed Out.” This song I feel especially resonates with the college age demographic: as Tyler sings “Wish we could turn back time/ to the good old days/ when our momma sang/ us to sleep/ but now we’re stressed out,” and “out of student loans and treehouse homes/ we all would take the latter.”

Reaffirming their musical versatility, Tyler stepped up to the mic with his ukulele, asking the audience to sing along. He then performed his cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” as the audience swayed their blinking glow sticks back and forth.

After slowing it down for a bit, Tyler and Josh immediately picked it back up by performing “Lane Boy,” a song with combined song styles of rap and almost dubstep. Right before the beat drops, Tyler spoke to the crowd, telling everybody to crouch down and “stay low,” only to count down and tell everybody to “JUMP!” a few moments later.

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The best part of the band is that they are such genuine people. They smile so much and always seem to be having such a great time on stage. Tyler even said to the audience, “There’s no place I’d rather be than right here playing music for you all.” They even brought a kid up on stage; an act to which he couldn’t help but grin ear to ear at.

There was never a dull moment during the show; the duo encouraged audience interaction by asking us all to partner up, and have one person lift the other onto his or her shoulders during the middle of the song “The Run And Go.”

Toward the end, Tyler said they would do one more song, but if we wanted them to, they would do two more.

And, without a doubt, we did.

Their second-to-last song was “Car Radio,” a much loved song by TØP fans. The lyrics in this song aren’t so much rapped nor sang; rather, it’s as if Tyler is reciting his emotions through poetry, regarding a time he was alone with his thoughts after somebody stole his car radio.

Near the end of the song, Tyler disappeared off the stage, leaving Josh to continue drumming. Tyler reappeared a few moments later, this time behind the audience. “Turn around,” he said, and as we did, we saw he was standing on a platform connected to the lighting booth. Tyler finished the song by shouting “And now I just sit in silence,” and quietly repeating the chorus once more as we all gazed up at him.

The lead singer then ran back up to the stage to help perform their final song, “Trees.” Starting off the song was Tyler at the keyboard, only one spotlight on him, singing the opening to the song. After the first verse, all the lights slowly lit up as Josh joined in again on the drums. The song builds up throughout, and then comes the grand finale.

The ending of this song is the most exciting part of it, as two platforms with large drums attached to them are brought out for the audience to hold up (something the band is known for doing throughout their shows). On opposite sides, Tyler and Josh face each other, bending over their individual drums, being supported by their devoted fans. They drummed out the end of the beautiful song, standing up every other beat with their arms held high to shout “Hey!” along with the audience, as confetti rained down over them.

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The duo made it back onto the stage for the last time of the show, grasped hands, and bowed to the crowd, both with big smiles on their faces. It seemed certain that Twenty One Pilots gained a lot of new friends after their performance, and UIC started the semester off with a spark.

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