University Union Concerts
is comprised of one director of concerts and an executive board of members, all dedicated to successfully booking and marketing concerts that the student body. Excluding Mayfest, the Concerts board is responsible for booking six concerts a year, all of which are geared towards the greater Syracuse area, with a primary focus on the student body. Through the use of an annual survey, the Concerts board attempts to book acts that appeal to a wide demographic, though there are always issues with the final decision.
At the beginning of each school year, University Union hosts a large-scale concert known as Juice Jam. On the second Sunday of every September, students are bussed to Skytop Field to view the concert, take part in the Student Activities Fair, and enjoy the carnival style games that abound. This concert acts as an introduction to the Syracuse community for some freshmen students, and is often the first time student organizations get to present themselves to potential members.
Juice Jam originally began as a small concert. In it’s first year, the show was free and open to the student body, but the venue was much smaller. In 2002, when it began, the concert was held near Lawrinson Hall. While the event was new, it still managed to “sell” out its limited number of tickets.
In 2011, Juice Jam took place on September 11th. As the show was announced, University Union Concerts notified the student body of the intent to donate funds to a charitable cause. The organization also used promotional opportunities to collect canned foods for food pantries throughout Syracuse. In keeping with the theme of charitable work, in 2012, University Union decided to do it again.
Following the tragic incident in Aurora, Colorado and the impact it had on a member of the Syracuse University community, University Union donated a portion of the proceeds to the Colorado Organization for Victim’s Assistance. Considering the response from the student body when the previous year’s charitable endeavors were announced, the organization found it fitting to continue in this vein. Stephen Barton, a graduate of the Syracuse University Class of 2012, was injured in the Aurora, Colorado attacks; this gave the organization a cause to support that needed urgent attention and affected people outside of the Syracuse University community.
Past acts for this event include Passion Pit, Lup Fiaasco, Girl Talk and Childish Gambino.
The Bandersnatch Concert Series is a small concert that takes place in the Schine Underground. Each semester, two concerts are held, each 350 capacity, with the majority of these shows being open to students only. The series focuses on bringing musicians that either fall in the category of indie, or up-and-coming, with most of the acts being rappers or small bands. Typically, artists that are selected for these shows tend to go on to greater success in the near future. Examples of this occurrence are the band Grouplove, rappers Big Sean and Joey Bada$$, and indie rockers Two Door Cinema Club.
A staple of Syracuse University is the annual tradition known as Mayfest. On the last Friday of every April, students take part in festivities to celebrate the end of the school year. In 2009, the University decided host an official Mayfest celebration in Walnut Park, enlisting the help of Student Association and University Union. Since then, University Union and Student Association have worked together to find a balance in producing a safe environment for students to party responsibly. Though there are still events on Comstock and in houses around campus, Mayfest acts as a university-sponsored event that creates a safe space for students to enjoy their last full week of classes.
University Union Concerts’ role in the planning of the event is booking the musical talent. As the university-sanctioned event is still in the early stages of becoming a full-blown tradition in its own right, the organizations involved are still finding their place in the larger scheme of things. For University Union, the role has essentially been to find artists to play during the day, and as this has become the focus, the organization has begun focusing on the way the day-show would mesh with Block Party, the concert that takes place later that night.
Block Party is the largest concert held y University Union. Each year, the Carrier Dome is opened on the last Friday of April. During the day, Mayfest takes place in Walnut Park, and around six o’clock in the evening, students move from Walnut Park to the Dome in preparation of the show. Since 2011, the capacity for such a show has reached a maximum of fifteen thousand people.
Because Block Party is the largest concert of the school year, it is often met with harsh criticism from the student body. In 2012, the student body was so outraged over the scheduled performer that the hashtag “Things I’d Rather Do Than Go To Block Party” became a national trending topic. Despite the repeated announcements about use of the annual survey, students still complained that they were not given an adequate line up. The fact that the organization was given seed funding and named the official programming board of the university only lead to more frustration within the student body. As a result of this, the show received a relatively low turn out rate, while students found other means of enjoyment. Those who attended the concert did enjoy themselves, as the event evolved into a giant party.
Tickets for this concert are available for purchase via and the .