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Review: Pentatonix @ The Danforth Music Hall
“Buy it, use it, fix it, trash it,” Mitch Grassi’s voice sounded through The Danforth Music Hall last night as he stood sheathed behind a curtain under a spotlight; the mashup of Daft Punk’s biggest hits, (viewed over 63 million times on YouTube) opened Pentatonix’s 80-minute set.
Gone are the doo-wops and colour-coordinated outfits akin to a cappella groups. A cappella groups performing pop songs, styled after Glee or Pitch Perfect, have become mainstream. Following the group’s 2011 victory on The Sing-Off, the Texas natives have sold out venues across North America in support of their third LP, PTX Vol. 2, released this year.
Avi Kaplan’s bass thundered through the music hall as “Hey Momma/Hit the Road Jack”, began. The group shimmied accompanying their blasting renditions of Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone”, after Scott Hoying greeted the audience with a backstory of the quintet. Cellist and beatboxer Kevin Olusola performed his original piece “Renegade” unaccompanied. The beatbox and cello-centric song opened with pizzicato string pluckings and showcased Olusola’s talent beyond the rhythmic foundation for Pentatonix’s songs.
Grassi sang the popular “Drunk in Love” riff that opened “Evolution of Beyonce” as a second curtain dropped to reveal the PTX Vol. 2 album cover. Original song “Natural Disaster” garnered afervent audience participation before the troupe was covered in an otherworldly green light and broke into radio hit, “E.T.”. The group seemlessly flowed into “Love Again” and then into Ellie Goulding’s “I Need your Love”, a duo of songs that capitalized on Grassi’s impressive falsetto. The crowd jammed to Pentatonix’s Caribbean-infused rendition of Goulding’s dance hit, as a cameraman cruised across the stage, capturing footage for online video-blog series PTXperience.
The emotional ballad “Say Something” spotlighted the group’s sole female member, Kristie Maldonado, her unwavering solo accompanied by pulsing purple lights and Olusola’s cello. Later, Hoying serenaded two adoring fans on-stage with “Let’s Get It On”, his dramatic anthemic runs added a touch of humour to the performance.
The ensemble’s powerful voices were unmicrophoned on the somber original tune “Run To You”, stunning the Danforth Music Hall crowd before revving into cover song, “Can’t Hold Us”. The crowd danced with their arms in the air as Grassi tackled the song’s rap solo with Nicki Minaj flare and blue streamers and confetti exploded overhead before the group exited the stage. The excited audience chanted “PTX”, as their demands for an encore were met by the group’s rendition of “Thrift Shop”, by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, with Kaplan’s bass carrying the hook as the crew backed his solo.