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concert reviewPentatonix turns Electric Factory into unforgettable party

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 12:05 am

By Scott Brown Hopewell Valley Central High School

Last Wednesday night at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, I attended one of the most energetic concerts I’ve ever been to — and it involved no instruments at all.

You might be asking yourself, “What is this kid doing at a concert on a Wednesday night?” Or maybe, “What kind of concert has no instruments?”

To those questions, I would say (a) that is the beauty of Senioritis and (b) the five-person a cappella group Pentatonix.

Pentatonix is best known for winning Season 3 of NBC’s a cappella competition “The Sing-Off.” The group is based in Arlington, Texas, and originated with three high school friends: Kirstie Maldonado, Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying. They added in bass Avi Kaplan and beatboxer Kevin Olusola before auditioning for “The Sing-Off.” They have released multiple EPs and have millions of YouTube views.

And to a cappella singers like my friends and me, they are gods.

Pentatonix came onstage to the raucous cheers of the crowd, and silhouetted in purple light, soaked in the excitement before launching into “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia. By the time the group got to the end of its next song, the much-loved “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore, the singers had the entire audience in the palm of their hand.

Every time one of them stepped up to talk to the crowd, they were greeted with a fresh burst of cheers, interspersed with marriage proposals and shouts of professed love.

They split us into three groups and we each belted out a vocal part as Kevin beatboxed along. We only stopped cheering or singing so we could hear them tell us what an amazing audience we were.

Of course, it doesn’t take much to be a great audience when you’re hearing everything you want to hear. From the danceable “Starships” to the ominous “Aha!” to the passionate “Love Lockdown,” they kept us entranced every second. My friends and I knew that every recording we had ever heard of Mitch’s inhuman high notes, Avi’s earthshaking bass and Kevin’s lightning-fast beatboxing was unbelievable; what was even more unbelievable was that their amazing talent sounded just as great live.

But Pentatonix didn’t just sing; it put on a show. Choreographed dances were a part of every song, including the robot in “Video Killed the Radio Star” and the classic “Bye Bye Bye” dance in its N’Sync medley. The group brought a girl from the crowd onstage and sang “Let’s Get It On” while Scott and Avi sat on her lap. And in one of the coolest moments of the night, Kevin played cello and beatboxed at the same time.

After a set full of dancing, shouting, and moments where all I could do was look at my friends and shake my head, Pentatonix left the stage. Of course, it was back in a few minutes for the encore everyone in the crowd demanded. The group started off with an electric rendition of Florence + the Machine’s “The Dog Days Are Over,” and then led the roaring crowd in a collective “We Are Young” by fun.

When the crowd’s cheers died down, I wanted to pass out and run a mile at the same time. Pentatonix’s viral energy spread through the whole Electric Factory that night, and made everyone dance, sing and smile. The singers talked directly to the crowd so much, I felt like I was close friends with every member. And through the grins on their faces as they gasped for air after each song, I could tell they genuinely loved what they were doing.

In short, for all you “Pitch Perfect” fans out there, they were aca-awesome.