By Sean Hudgins
As in years past, the University saw its Special Olympics Fall Festival weekend create a great sense of camaraderie amongst the student body, especially within the always-popular Olympic Town—or “O-Town,” for short—in the Quad. From Kan-Jam booths to a karaoke station to several musical performances by both student groups and outside talent alike, there was certainly no shortage of entertainment for O-Town visitors.
Among those performers attempting to drum up some spirit were Special Olympics performance veterans Eddie Perry, 19, and Zach Van Mourik, 18. These New Jersey natives are the heart of rising pop-duo, Diverse.
The pair started working together almost eight years ago after appearing in many of the same TV spots and opening for each other as solo artists. The lineup became more varied after bringing dancer, and daughter of University economics professor David Fiorenza, Gia Fiorenza onto the team for live performances.
Though not an official member of the band, Fiorenza is one of the group’s steady backup dancers, and has been with the pair for about two years. She adds an additional element to the boy band formula and makes Diverse a more well-rounded outfit.
When asked to elaborate upon the significance of their name, the boys explained their efforts to try to set themselves apart from the masses and create an entertainment experience that feels unique and fresh.
“The bottom line is we try our best to incorporate a lot of different styles into our music,” Van Mourik said. Perry added that he thinks Diverse makes for great “party music” and describes the overall feel of the band as “up-tempo dance pop”—a great fit for SpO festivities. In fact, this was the third appearance the boys have made at the Fall Festival, and will likely not be their last.
“We love performing for the [athletes] here,” Van Mourik said in response to the group’s continued presence at the Fall Festival. “They have a great old time here at the Special Olympics and it’s really nice to come and perform for them and see them dance around.”
“There’s a lot of pretty girls here,” Perry added jokingly.
The boys came out shortly after 12 p.m. on Saturday in matching purple pleather jackets, kicking things off with one of their original songs and first track off their album, “Won’t Stop Until You’re Mine.” Despite the duo’s well-executed choreography, the population of O-Town was initially reluctant to give its attention to the group as they performed in front of Bartley Hall.
In an effort to encourage some more crowd participation, the two moved to a cover of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” the first among several cover tunes Diverse would perform in its 30-minute set.
What the pair may have lacked in vocal range they made up for in energy, enthusiasm and charisma. In some ways, the lack of a legitimate stage may have even played to Diverse’s advantage as it allowed them to go out into the crowd and mingle with audience members. The band began to single out young women and sing its songs directly to them before giving them a “Diverse” wristband, a clever promotional ploy that added another level of fun to the performance.
In between songs, Perry and Van Mourik could be heard trading witty banter and talking to the crowd in a way that kept up the light-hearted atmosphere.
The boys might have a ways to go toward fleshing out their voices, but in terms of putting on a show, they certainly know how to entertain.
For its final number, Diverse sang “Single For Sure,” the catchiest song in its repertoire of original material. When asked if they really were single for sure, the pair was quick to acknowledge their availability. “Technically, we’re always available,” Perry said with a smirk.
The two ladies’ men ended the show with a cover of LMFAO’s hit “Party Rock” that really got the crowd into the performance. Again, the choreography was the star of the show here, with Van Mourik’s “Party Rock” moves being particular stellar, and a number of the girls that had been sung to running over to dance with the boys.
By the end, the majority of the crowd could at least be seen tapping a foot or clapping to the beat until the music died. In his farewell, Van Mourik thanked everyone in attendance with a loud, enthusiastic “Go Wildcats” cheer.