Ryerson GCM student and guitarist Giulio Quaglieri, front centre, rests with other members of Verge before their set at Lee's Palace. PHOTO: ADAM EISNER

Rock ‘n enrolment

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By Adam Eisner

Lead singer Noshir D’almeida stood in front of a packed house shirtless and dripping with sweat. The crowd, mainly university students awash in alcohol, demanded guitarist and fourth-year GCM student Giulio Quaglieri do the same.

“Giulio!” they yelled. “Take your shirt off!”

They screamed in vain. Quaglieri kept his shirt. The band, Verge, ripped through its one-hour set with fierce intensity. Many crowd members at Lee’s Palace Feb. 6 matched the band’s intensity, jumping to the fast-paced music.

Verge’s flyer promises “unique, adrenaline-based rock,” and they deliver. This Toronto quintet’s sound is loud, edge and refreshingly creative — Pearl Jam meets Led Zeppelin.

Verge began as a three-piece band in the summer of 1995. Quaglieri joined in 1996, and the group was completed in 1997 when former blues singer D’almeida cam aboard with his smooth, from-the-gut voice.

Three of the five members are university students, making full rehearsals difficult to arrange. D’almeida is a fourth-year biology student at the University of Toronto and guitarist Jeremy Koch is studying math at the University of Waterloo. Koch travels to Toronto on weekends for rehearsals and shows. “I need some excitement in my life,” he said. Bassist Paul Smith is an apprentice electrician and part-time snowboard instructor, while drummer Mike Fanelli works at a hospital.

One member is en route to becoming a programmer with IBM, and another is studying to be a doctor or teacher — but the band firmly believes there isn’t a better time for them to start a musical career.

“This is the time to do it. Once you finish school, you have to find a job. This is it,” said Quaglieri. He’s serious about making it big, and doesn’t tolerate mistakes. “We’re pretty critical. Well, I’m pretty critical,” he said. D’almeida agreed. “He’s quality control,” he said, laughing.

They certainly have the musical tools to make it big. Their show at Lee’s featured clear, lively music. Their mixture of influences (Quaglieri describes D’almeida as “pure pop” and Fanelli calls himself a “metal freak”) shines through their music. They can’t even properly describe their own sound. “We fluctuate a lot,” said Koch.

The band is trying to sell their CD single, Rave, to studios. It was written right before they were to play at Oakham House. Short on songs, with only minutes to go before showtime, the band threw down a bunch of chords on paper. While they don’t feel it is their best song, it has been one of the most popular at their live shows.

D’almeida said he would rather become a high-profile musician than a doctor or a teacher. “I can’t live without this,” he said. “And I wouldn’t mind being as big as The Tragically Hip.”

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