YOUNG FANS of American a cappella quintet Pentatonix packed into the modest auditorium of Muang Thai GMM Live House at CentralWorld on Tuesday evening for a couple of hours of truly terrific vocals. The Texas outfit, in town for their debut Bangkok show, didn’t disappoint, wowing the crowd with their talent as well as their showmanship.
The concert venue’s easy access by Skytrain meant that even the heavy downpour early in the evening didn’t put a damper on the show, with many of the fans, both Thai and foreign, coming along with mum and dad. At 9pm sharp, silhouettes of group members –Avi Kaplan, Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Kirstin Maldonado and Kevin Olusola – appeared on stage as “Cracked”, a track from their first studio album boomed out to loud cheers. That was followed by another original song, “Na Na Na” and the first cover of the night OMI’s “Cheerleader”.
“We’re so glad to be here!” tenor Mitch Grassi, exclaimed. “We’re going to treat you to another song from our album, ‘Pentatonix’, and here it is.” And with that came “Can’t Sleep Love”, the smoothly arranged and beautifully executed mid-tempo pop number that had fans swaying from side to side.
The group then paid tribute to one of their idols, Michael Jackson with “Evolution of Michael Jackson”, a mind-blowing medley of verses from the King of Pop’s timeless hits seamlessly arranged, demonstrating just how good the savvy Texans are at showing off their vocal prowess.
The group continued the show with a few covers, including Twenty One Pilots’ “Ride”, Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive”, Meghan Trainor’s “No” and Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” and “Where Are U Now” in which they turned a hyped up EDM track into to a lingering, heartfelt pop song.
Kudos to Olusola for the neat beatboxing that not only framed the song but also gave it an EDM aftertaste.
Olusola, it turns out, is also a great cellist and the pioneer of what he calls “celloboxing”. While his band mates headed backstage to rest, he played the prelude to Bach’s “Suite No 1” with turntable and electronic effects using his vocals as percussion.
The rest of the group reappeared on stage and started recruiting fans to help them sing the next song, “Misbehavin’”, another of their original songs. Several lucky fans had their five minutes of fame as they gathered in the pit, belting out words in the chorus and grooving with Pentatonix. Kirstin Maldonado, the mezzo soprano, took centre stage with the next number, the original ballad, “Water”. But while Maldonado’s delicate and light soprano is manna to the ears, the background sounds by her fellow singers often drowned her out.
Anton Bruckner's “Christus” and Imogen Heap’s “Aha!” were next on the Pentatonix menu, blowing the audience away with perfect synchronisation and vocal interplay especially between the beatboxer and bass, Avi Kaplan whose voice is impressively deep and resonating. Two more of their own popular tracks, “Rose Gold” and “New Year’s Day” wrapped up the show and group left the stage only to return to loud applause with “Light in the Hallway”, performed without microphones and “Sing”, also from “Pentatonix” album.
With their bubbly personalities, great vocals and pop star showmanship, Pentatonix made the a cappella concert fun, adding much-needed variety to today’s music industry.