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Review: Pentatonix gets crowd screaming at rodeo

By Hector Saldana
February 15, 2015 Updated: February 15, 2015 9:03pm
Alma E. Hernandez /For the Express-News


Pentatonix performs at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo on Sunday. Pentatonix is a Grammy-winning a cappella group from Arlington, Texas, with more than 6.7 million YouTube subscribers.


Pentatonix isn’t only living the dream; the Grammy-winning a cappella YouTube sensations embody it for millions of young people.

The youthful singing group — Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Avi Kaplan, Kirstin Maldonado and Kevin Olusola — performed Sunday afternoon at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo at the AT&T Center. The show, which often generated deafening screams, marked Pentatonix’s rodeo debut.

Yes, those heavily processed harmonizing voices sound utterly fantastic (Grassi’s high register and falsetto is a marvel; Kaplan’s bass overtone singing rumbled the joint; and Olusola is an uncanny human beatbox who plays cello, too). But the “Glee” generation relates to the group’s journey, as much as the pop, hip-hop, R&B and dubstep songs they cover.

“Sometimes I like their music more than the originals,” said Alec Turner, 17, of Fort Worth. “Maybe it’s because they’re young.”

Rachel Kirby, an 18-year-old student at the University of Oklahoma, came all the way from Norman, Oklahoma, for the rodeo concert. Her seat was on the dirt floor.

“They got big off of YouTube. It’s inspirational, absolutely,” Kirby said. “They don’t hide behind instruments. It’s 100 percent talent.”

Pentatonix hugs a lucky rodeo fan
San Antonio Express-News
Matthew Steele, 22, said he prefers country and classic rock but is impressed by Pentatonix “because of all the music they make from their mouths.”

PTX, as they’re also known, opened with the award-winning “Daft Punk.” The tongue-twisting set included Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” the Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé tribute “Evolution of Beyoncé,” Calvin Harris’ “I Need Your Love” and Stromae’s “Papaoutai.”

They sang an original song, too: “On My Way Home.”

The group showed a keen sense of humor (and the absurd) by bringing up a breathless, young female fan to the rotating stage to serenade her with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” The young woman, named Sylvia, wiped away tears of joy and amazement, as members of the group sat in her lap and later gave her some hugs.

It wasn’t only young people that love ’em.

Kristy Sommers had a $200 seat near the stage. “My son introduced me to them,” she said. “He bought this ticket for me for Valentine’s Day.”

Forty-something married couple Gilbert and Kayla Barrett embrace them, too. “I grew up in the D-FW area, which is where they’re from,” said Kayla. “It’s just so new.”

Imagine how it is for these phenoms — they sold more albums than Beyoncé last year — who not so long ago were, like a lot of kids, uploading their cover versions of hits on YouTube.

“We are back in Texas for the first time since all this craziness,” said Scott Hoying, a founding member, who also told the crowd that “we actually found (Olusola) on YouTube.”

Fifth-grader Abby Lightfoot’s tickets and Pentatonix T-shirt were an early birthday gift. Her one-word review said it all. “Amazing,” said Lightfoot, 10.

“She’s obsessed with them,” said her mom, Heather Lightfoot.

And why not? PTX speaks her language. And if it’s not everybody’s, it once was. Pentatonix closed with fun.’s “We Are Young” whose chorus goes:“Tonight, we are young. So let’s set the world on fire. We can burn brighter than the sun.”