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- Showbox at the Market
- Wednesday, Dec. 19
It's an unusual thing to find the winner of a singing competition still doing well even months after winning said competition. In fact, with the exception of the Kelly Clarksons and Carrie Underwoods (did she even win?) of the world, one might say it's impossible to keep the momentum going once the 15 minutes of fame flame has burned down.
It's for this reason, and so many more, the success of a capella act Pentatonix, who won the third season of now-defunct show "The Sing-Off," is all the more astonishing.
On paper, it should be surprising that an a capella group - a glorified show choir, if you will - can play a venue like the Showbox at the Market. More than that, that they could sell the damn thing out. But the numbers don't lie: their debut EP, PTX Vol. 1, charted at #14 on the Billboard 200 Charts, their Christmas EP, PTXmas, charted at #1 on the iTunes Holiday Albums chart - and the showroom at the Market on Wednesday was packed.
In theory, it'd be easy to throw a group like Pentatonix aside as a talented cover band, especially when considering all but one song from their set were covers. But standing alongside avid fans screaming and singing along to the vocally complex, intricately arranged pop tracks, it felt more like dealing with bona fide rock stars.
It's an incredible thing to see this five piece, void of any instrumentation, in action. The three primary vocalists - Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi and Kirstie Maldonado - harmonizing in all sorts of fantastical ways, breathing new life in to the songs we've all heard and known and sung along to.
But the real depth of the group comes to light in the meat and potatoes, Kevin Olusola (beat-boxing and rapping extraordinaire) and Avi Kaplan (bassist), whose vocal magic tricks create a robust backing track that could easily be mistaken for a full band. And with a set list that included tracks ranging from Kanye West's "Love Lockdown" to Imogen Heap's "Aha" there was something everyone in the room could grab hold of.
As group member Scott Hoying pointed out, the majority of people in the room were (and, likely, still are) choir nerds - an idea only solidified as Kaplan and Olusola asked the crowd to sing along.
When the "singing angels of Seattle" proved they could actually hold a note, the five-piece was quick to praise:
"You guys are advanced. Seattle can freaking sing."
It's a travesty that the Sing-Off is the show that had to go. Where programs like The Voice and American Idol find ratings in the drama erupting between their celebrity panels, and The X Factor earns points in over the top production, Sing-Off was a breath of fresh air: an opportunity to showcase the country's most remarkably technical vocal talents. The fact that Olusola can rap and beat box at the same time is more than a testament to this.
And while long ago is the time when being a choir nerd was a bad thing (thanks for that, Glee), Pentatonix is here to remind us that being cheesy is freaking cool.