Thanks to the popularity of the Pitch Perfect films, acapella singing groups are back into vogue in the mainstream. Arguably the most popular of these a cappella groups out there in the recording music business now is Pentatonix (or PTX for short).
Since we just saw and enjoyed Pitch Perfect 2 (which actually featured PTX in a cameo role) I decided this would be a great experience for the whole family to watch a real acapella concert live. It helped that the tickets were not too expensive, only P5800 for the VIP seats to P850 for the Upper Box seats!
Pentatonix is a group of talented young vocalists from Arlington, Texas. The original three members were Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi and Kirstie Maldonado. They recruited bass profundo Avi Kaplan and beatboxer Kevin Olusola to complete their group when they joined the TV competition, "The Sing Off." PTX won the third season, but did not really get mass recognition until their Youtube channel went viral, now with more than 8M subscribers.
I have seen a lot of concerts in my life, but this may be only time I have seen a concert begin almost exactly on the time stated on the ticket, 8 pm. The screams were so unexpectedly loud when the house lights were dimmed and the quintet appeared on the stage. Their first number was a mashup featuring Ariana Grande's hit "Problem." This was immediately followed by an exciting Beyonce Medley incorporating songs from her career in Destiny's Child to soloist, from "Bills, Bills, Bills" to "Halo".
They told the audience that this is their 4th year as a group and they just recently celebrated their anniversary. While they were talking, it was so incredible to hear Mitch's childlike squeaky high-pitched voice contrasting with Avi's solid, full, heavy bass voice. These two guys seemed to have the most fans when you based it on the screams they received when they took their turn on the mic. They related their backstory and introduced the next song as the first song they ever arranged, Lady Gaga's "Telephone," which they submitted as an entry to a radio contest.
Their next song is their tribute to their favorite artist Sam Smith, "La La Latch." This was followed by their rendition of Jazmine Sullivan's "Love You Long Time." With scenes of busy Tokyo in the background video, the next song sung was Clean Bandit's song "Rather Be." These songs were also so amazingly arranged and perfectly rendered.
While the others took a break offstage, Kevin came on stage carrying his cool-looking cello. He impressively performed his cello cum beatbox solo number entitled "Julio." The others then joined him again onstage to perform a catchy foreign language song entitled "Papaoutai," a big hit by Belgian musician Stromae. Unfamiliar as that song was, their versatile vocals were really in full display in that song. It was also so true in the next number called the "Opera Moment", immediately segueing to a cover of Imogen Heap's "Aha!" So complex and so good -- my favorite part of the concert!
PTX sang their version of "4,5 Seconds," Kanye West's collaboration with Rihanna and Paul McCartney, while they went down the stage to shake hands with their fans in the VIP seats. After they this, they sang a mashup of Ariana Grande's "Break Free" with their original song "See Through."
As we hear them sing the opening strains of "Uptown Funk," Avi thrilled the girls in the front row when he announced that he was going to pick one of them to go onstage. They picked an excited girl in a red blouse and short skirt named Eve. The guys serenaded her mashing that Mark Ronson hit up with Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" (VIDEO). After the song, the lucky Eve got to hug each PTX member, and even got to take a selfies with them right there on the stage.
The next number was an amazing mash-up of music from the 1600 to the present, from Beethoven to Carly Rae Jepsen. This was an incredible and fun arrangement of hit songs they called The Evolution of Music. You have to hear it to believe it.
They ended their main set with two original songs. The first one was called "Standing By." For the final song, "On My Way Home", (VIDEO) they divided the audience into three sections and taught us a tune to sing each section. The result sounded so fine indeed. After this song, PTX thanked the audience and left the stage.
Of course, the audience shouted for more. Later on, we were chanting the tunes that they taught in the last number on our own, which really sounded so good. PTX excitedly reentered the stage, saying how great the audience sounded. They declared that they wanted to do something special, but that there had to be total silence. Then they put their microphones on the floor and sang "That's Christmas to Me." The audience cooperated allowing the pure voices of the PTX to conquer the immense size of the Araneta Coliseum. Incredible vocal feat, incredible aural experience. (VIDEO)
For their final encore number, PTX sang their awesome Daft Punk Medley. The original music video of this medley has already hit 130M views to date and it also won them their first Grammy earlier this year for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella. The very energetic number sounded so much better performed live, and was a most memorable ending to a great concert. Incredibly, we were actually leaving the Araneta Coliseum by 9:30 pm. For most concerts, the concert was only gaining heat by that time.
In the beginning I was imagining how minimalistic this concert would be, since PTX only brought their voices with them, no need for a live band or any accompanying music. However, PTX were true masters of their vocal instruments. Their voices combined in ingenious harmony enveloped the whole coliseum with a wall of beautiful sound like it had not experienced before.