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Reviews: PENTATONIX Brings Energetic Performance to Ohio State's Campus
by Amanda Etchison
An anticipatory buzz of hushed conversation filled the Ohio Union's Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom Monday night as the lights dimmed and the opening notes of Ariana Grande's "Problem" rang out across the great hall--unaccompanied by any musical backtrack or instruments.
Almost immediately, the room erupted into excited screams as, one by one, the members of a cappella quintet Pentatonix took the stage.
Comprised of lead vocalists Scott Hoying, Kirstie Maldonado, and Mitch Grassi, vocal bass Avi Kaplan, and beatboxer Kevin Olusola, Pentatonix has taken the world by storm with its innovative covers of a variety of songs ranging from electronica to Billboard Top 40 hits.
After winning Season 3 of NBC's "The Sing-Off," Pentatonix has enjoyed international success, having released three studio albums, each boasting an aurally tantalizing mixture of reimagined covers of popular songs and original compositions.
Additionally, the group has garnered a massive following on social media, with more than 6 million subscribers on YouTube, more than 1 million likes on Facebook, and 371,000 followers on Twitter.
Known for its energetic performance style as well as the technical precision of its music, Pentatonix did not disappoint with an hour-and-a-half-long set that seamlessly blended old favorites and new, experimental tracks into an impressive display of vocal talent.
In celebration of the group's 3-year anniversary, Pentatonix devoted much of the show's program to the songs that helped shape its signature style.
A mash-up of Lady Gaga's "Telephone" and Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" kicked off the night on a high note with an innovative mix of old and new, while a medley of Beyonce's greatest hits got the crowd singing "Put a Ring on It" at the top of their lungs.
Effortlessly transitioning between songs with conversational anecdotes that provided just enough background information for newcomers without boring loyal followers, Pentatonix commanded the stage with a confidence that truly showed just how much the group has grown since its "The Sing-Off" days.
About halfway into the show, the group transitioned into some original material featured on its newest album, "PTX Vol. III," which provided a welcome change of pace from the bouncy pop covers that dominated the first half of the program.
The most memorable performance of the night came from Olusola and his cello, the only instrument other than the singers' voices included in the entire show. Olusola performed an original composition entitled "Renegade," which perfectly paired the smooth sounds of strings with Olusola's extensive beatboxing repertoire.
Much to the audience's delight, Olusola's cello remained onstage for one more song, providing gentle accompaniment for a cover of A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera's "Say Something."
The second half of the program included more fan favorites such as "The Evolution of Music," a 5-minute journey through the history of song, beginning with 11th century church hymns and ending with Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."
Where Pentatonix shined brightest was in the beautiful layering of voices, the building of a spine-chilling harmony from a lone note echoing through the silence of a still concert hall. It was in these intimate moments when the audience could truly see the versatility of the human voice as an instrument capable of filling a massive ballroom with wave upon wave of pitch-perfect sound.
Pentatonix ended the concert with "Can't Hold Us," a crowd-pleaser that got the audience up on its feet, dancing and singing along.
The group even returned for an encore featuring the debut performance of "On My Way Home," an original composition featured on "PTX Vol. III" before exiting the stage for good--but not before exchanging a few O-H-I-O's with the crowd.