found its way home for a tour closer, and we can still hear the screams
Mar. 30, 2015 7:38am
The hit-making a capella
group Pentatonix ended its U.S. headlining tour on Sunday night with
a sold out show at Verizon Theater, just a few miles from where three
of its singers graduated from high school. Understandably, Arlington
Martin High grads Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi and Kirstin Maldonado received
a hero's welcome when they hit the stage.
Screams from the all-ages crowd became piercing at times when the three
lead singers and their lower-register bandmates Kevin Olusola (the beatboxer)
and Avi Kaplan (the bass) blended voices on original songs and covers
of pop hits.
Hoying was the first to give a shoutout to his hometown crowd, after
the group opened with a version of Ariana Grande's "Problem"
and continued to thrill with its supersize medley of Beyoncé
"We basically named our tour after this moment right now - 'On
Our Way Home,'" Hoying said. "The energy is insane here; it's
only been two songs and I'm already obsessed with you."
The feeling was no-doubt
mutual in the packed theater - in addition to entire families clapping
and singing along, we spotted large groups of outwardly giddy school
kids wearing identical t-shirts. We'd imagine any Pentatonix concert
to be a destination event for the choir and theater set.
Yet any one of the singing fivesome's 7.9 million YouTube subscribers
can tell you that Pentatonix prides itself on mass appeal, putting its
unique, instrument-free stamp on the most popular hits in the country.
The abundant cover tunes gave Sunday's concert the vibe of a breakneck
hit parade at times.
On top of Lady Gaga and 'Yoncé odes, we heard a mashup of Sam
Smith singles, a thumping take on the EDM hit "Rather Be,"
the current Rihanna-Kanye collaboration "Four Five Seconds"
and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On." The latter was performed
to comedic effect as Hoying and his bandmates took turns "seducing"
a lady from the audience they brought on stage. It was all in cheeky
To these ears, though, the lesser known covers and original songs gave
Pentatonix better chances to shine as vocal arrangers (a skill for which
they won their first Grammy earlier this year). Their take on Salaam
Remi's "Love You Long Time" allowed the singers some space
and gave listeners a clearer idea of how they come together.
While Grassi, Hoying and Maldonado capably handled the bulk of the lead
parts throughout the evening, Kaplan did get to showcase his rich bass
on the downtempo "Standing By." And the one instrument that
made it on to the stage was Olusola's cello - he played it and beatboxed
for a few minutes to give his groupmates a rest. Grassi's brassy tenor
seemed to drive young fans in the standing-room pit up front the craziest.
With no need to make room
for a band, most of the stage was occupied by a wide platform with several
steps. The five singers made a point to spread out and use as much of
their set as possible, and they even sang among the fans for a few chaotic
The show's backdrop featured video projections both canned and live:
its most functional moment came when clips of the group's meteoric rise
played as they spoke about their journey. We saw the audition tape that
started it all, the winning moment from The Sing-Off and the first YouTube
video that helped Pentatonix land its current record deal. (No sneak-peek
footage from the group's appearance in the upcoming Pitch Perfect sequel,
in case you were wondering.)
Judging by the spirited
singalong to "On My Way Home" near the end of the show, we
wouldn't be surprised to see many of the same audience members show
up to Gexa Energy Pavilion on August 30 when the group is scheduled
to open for fellow North Texas pop sensation Kelly Clarkson. The obsession