No Instruments? No Problem: Pentatonix impresses at Chaifetz Arena


Pentatonix is not your average acapella group. After winning “The Sing-Off” in 2011, the five members—Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola—have become world-renowned artists. They have created certified gold and platinum albums and have won two Grammys. Even with all of their accomplishments, they might be best known for their YouTube videos, which capture the music and spirit of their band. They always take chances and put their own spin on any song they perform. I have loved watching their fame grow, and I was extremely excited to see—and hear—them in person.

Pentatonix took the stage at Chaifetz Sunday evening, April 17, armed with only their microphones. The anticipation in the crowd was palpable after seeing opening acts AJ and Us the Duo, and fans of all ages screamed when the five members first appeared. With the opening notes of “Cracked,” one of their original songs, the audience was hooked. Regular concerts are exciting, but this was something else completely. There were no instruments, but the music was just as—if not more—complex and riveting as any group with a full band. Kaplan’s bass notes boomed through the speakers; Olusola’s beatboxing broke down the rhythms; Grassi’s tenor voice soared angelically; Hoying’s lead was smooth as velvet; and Maldonado’s voice was sweet and pure. Combined, they are one powerhouse group harmonizing to perfection.

Song after song, the energy from the band just kept coming. They performed a mixture of the covers they are famous for and original songs from their new self-titled album. The crowd belted along to the covers, including their Grammy-Award-winning Daft Punk Medley, Meghan Trainor’s “No,” and some Justin Bieber. Their original songs are amazing, ranging from slower ballads like “Water” and “Rose Gold” to upbeat tunes like “Na Na Na” and “Sing.” Different members of the group would take the lead, so each of the songs had a slightly different sound.

Halfway through the performance, the only instrument appeared. As the rest of the band went backstage, Olusola brought out his cello. His rendition of Bach was accompanied by his intricate beatboxing. It was incredible to watch, and even better to listen to. This led into his playing of “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons as the rest of the group joined him on stage.

Pentatonix’s stage presence was electric. Between their unbelievable harmonies and their cute choreography, they had the attention of the crowd the entire night. Between every couple of songs, one of the members would speak about the tour, and they were very candid and genuine. They engaged with people in the audience, and for one song, “Misbehavin’,” they even brought fans onto the stage to help them sing.

The second-to-last song they performed was really something special to see. The five members of Pentatonix put down their individual microphones and asked the crowd to be silent. Silence is not something that is often heard in arenas, but that night, a hush fell over the crowd to hear the group sing using only a single microphone. Everyone listened intently as Pentatonix began to sing “Light in the Hallway.” It was a beautiful melody, and it was such pure and soulful singing. Their voices blended perfectly, and the silence between phrases was magical because it is not usually heard at concerts.

Because I have listened to Pentatonix’s albums before, I was not sure how a live performance would compare to a recording. Their songs are always so perfect in recordings, but many times artists can fall short of their songs when playing live. This was not the case for Pentatonix. They were always together, always flawless. This is so impressive for an acapella group, especially as they jumped from one song to another, changing keys seamlessly. There is no doubt that Pentatonix is one of the most talented groups I have ever had the opportunity to see perform live.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email