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cappella group Pentatonix gives noteworthy performance at Riverside Theater
Can Pentatonix take a cappella to arenas?
Thanks to a series of unique covers that went viral on YouTube, "The Sing-Off" season three winners sold out every single date on its current two-month U.S. tour.
And judging by the ecstatic reaction to its highly entertaining Riverside Theater show Tuesday, that success appears to be just the beginning.
During a 90-minute set, Mitch Grassi frequently hit high notes like Freddie Mercury. Avi Kaplan's beguiling baritone was so deep, it practically made Barry White sound like Mercury.
Scott Hoying showcased easygoing confidence and relatability as the charismatic frontman, and Kirstie Maldonado provided rich sonic contrast to the guys and the occasional goosebump moment.
And Kevin Olusola marveled as the group's all-important beatboxer — at one point dropping synth-like beats with his voice while jamming on the cello.
But it was with the quintet's complementary powers combined that Pentatonix became a mighty harmonizing fist.
Its imaginatively arranged "Evolution of Music" breathlessly spanned dozens of songs in four-and-a-half minutes, from Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5" to Aretha Franklin's "Respect" to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." The opening Daft Punk medley was an uncanny replication of the French duo's electronic stylings, complete with a mash-up of "One More Time" atop the chorus for "Get Lucky." And straight covers were never straightforward. Voices ebbed and flowed atop Olusola's off-the-hook beats for Lady Gaga's "Telephone" and a cover of Katy Perry's "E.T." performed by the group for the first time since 2012, brought out a melodic touch overshadowed by the original's busy production.
But beyond technical skill, the group showcased engaging emotional range. A zealous fan named Crystal sat on a throne for a humorously hammy version of "Let's Get It On" sprinkled with selfies and over-the-top boy-band-style wooing. But then still, striking renditions of A Great Big World's "Say Something" and original "Run to You" brought the crowd to an awed hush.
"We're bigger than we ever dreamed," the group sang as part of a twist ending for Lorde's "Royals" But Pentatonix seems poised to make a cappella bigger than anyone thought possible.
Based on the pitch and volume of the shrieking, Avi Kaplan appeared to be the fan favorite, thanks to a sexy, deep voice (and possibly his expressed love of "Lord of the Rings.")
But proving he could do more than sing really low, Kaplan at one point sang two different notes at once. "I love that boy" the lady in front of me cheered.
Overheard in the crowd: "That was so cool;" "That was amazing;" "I'm too excited!"
With an audience seemingly full of choir members, the typical, big singalong moment (on Tuesday, for fun.'s "We Are Young") sounded way better than usual.