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Photos: Pentatonix make a cappella cool at sold-out Chelsea concert

By Sun Staff
Monday, March 2, 2015 | 8:56 a.m.

A sold-out crowd at the Chelsea in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas waited anxiously Saturday night for Pentatonix. The crowd ranged from middle-age choir teachers to choir students and everyone in between.

Pentatonix, the Grammy Award-winning a cappella group and Season 3 winners of NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” have recently performed everywhere from the tree-lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center to the Kennedy Center Honors with their magical rendition of Tom Hanks’ “That Thing You Do.”

The quintet — Kevin Olusola, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstie Maldonado and Avi Kaplan — started off the show with Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” followed by an ode to Queen Bey and Destiny’s Child that included a mash-up melody of “Bills,” “Survivor,” “Crazy in Love,” “Irreplaceable,” “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” “Diva,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Run the World (Girls)” and “Halo.”

The a cappella group, decked out in black, white and shimmering silver, looked as if they had just walked off the pages of H&M with this season’s trendiest and must-have threads. From the beginning, PTX continually thanked the audience for their high energy and continuing support, and it became abundantly clear that PTX have true heartfelt appreciation for their fans.

Throughout the show, Pentatonix chatted with the audience and shared their rags-to-riches story. They explained that Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” was the first song they had ever arranged together and was used as their audition for “The Sing-Off.” The creative arrangement of “Telephone” had a reggae-inspired feel, which was a stark contrast to the poppy original.

The group then wowed the crowd with “La La Latch” off of their latest album “PTX Vol. III,” which is a mix of Sam Smith’s popular songs “La La La” and “Latch.” PTX undoubtedly know how to cover songs, alter arrangements and turn classics into their own unique versions.

PTX also does something very special: They make a cappella cool. Gone are the days of thinking about a cappella as lame or dorky. PTX has risen to stardom with the help of “Glee” and “Pitch Perfect,” which allows fans to believe that one day, their lives also will break out into spontaneous song and dance. PTX’s choreography can be stilted and unimaginative, but this is forgivable because their incredible voices carry the show.

PTX shared stories about how they formed in Texas, filmed a song on an iPad 2, were dropped by their label and then picked up by Sony RCA. The roller coaster of emotions was evident, and their message to their fans was simple: Never give up on your dreams.

After the message of inspiration, Olusola took the stage alone and performed one of two show-stopping moments of the night. He beat boxed while playing the cello, which the group has dubbed cello boxing. Olusola demonstrated true talent, and with his rousing rendition of “Julie-O,” the crowd gave him a well-deserved standing ovation.

Following the cello boxing was difficult to do, and PTX lost the crowd for a short while with “Papaouti,” but they were able to regain their momentum with “Aha!” Pentatonix then walked through the audience and serenaded them with Kanye West, Rihanna and Paul McCartney’s new hit “FourFiveSeconds.” The quick stroll through the Chelsea brought the audience back to life.

Back onstage, PTX performed a clever arrangement of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ No. 1 smash “Uptown Funk.” Like most shows nowadays, there is a part where an audience member is pulled onstage, which can be a big gamble. But, thankfully, the woman who became the center of the PTX universe remained as composed as possible, even though she barely escaped a Janet Jackson-esque wardrobe malfunction during Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”

Post-button-popping performance was the second show-stopping moment of the night. The group performed the “Evolution of Music,” a quick trip through time as PTX paid homage to countless genres ranging from the Gregorian chant to disco and Top 40.

The ingenious mash-up featured “Danny Boy,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “La Bamba,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Respect,” “ABC 123,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Thriller,” “Can’t Touch This,” “I Want It That Way,” “I Kissed a Girl,” “I Gotta Feeling” and many more.

Once again, PTX was left with the daunting challenge of following up an unforgettable performance. This time they succeeded with one of their original songs, “Standing By,” which has only been performed a handful of times, according to the group. Halfway through the song, the venue was illuminated with cell-phone lights, and a respectful quiet came over the crowd.

PTX closed the show with their melody tribute to Draft Punk, which has more than 122 million views on YouTube, won them the Grammy this month and includes “Get Lucky,” “Digital Love,” “One More Time” and “Harder Better Faster.”