Pentatonix @ The Athenaeum Theatre – 23 Aug ’14

It had to be the wrong venue…surely there had been a mistake. The crowd alone and the number of excited faces seemed a little out of character at The Athenaeum outside of comedy festival time. But alas, after checking details and meeting all attending parties at the venue, there was no mistake…and this was going to be interesting.

With no support act on stage there was an unexpected amount of nervous excitement in the air. When something did happen on stage anyone could have easily confused vocal group Pentatonix with some breaking boy band that had just hit the scene. Seriously, what was with all the screaming? (Screaming, not cheering…very distinct on an evening like this).

Sure, there were lights and a few stage props around but the real reason for sticking it out amongst the dedicated fans was for the elaborate a capella vocal arrangements that put a creative spin on, for the most part, other people’s tunes…of the popular variety of course.

The group’s take on Daft Punk was the first foray into their live delivery, at their first ever Australian show, only to be followed a somewhat ironic choice of ‘Telephone’ given that Lady Gaga was performing nearby. A career spanning Evolution of Beyoncé medley was an incredible feat live, and being able to increase those screams to sharp shrills (use your imagination to think of what that may have sounded like during the Single Ladies part). But as far as medleys go, throwing in the Evolution of Music arrangement on the night was brave and extraordinarily brilliant.

One of the stand out performances came from a solo cello-beatboxing composition called Renegade, from group member Kevin Olusola and an absolutely killer introduction to live celloboxing as it has been termed. But of course, the screaming took over again, with the only saving grace being the music. Even the clapping along at this point seemed out of place…although there would have been few instances prior where a cello would have felt so popular.

But finally…silence was granted for one of a few rare moments. It only took about 30 minutes into the show but the a capella brilliance was finally given the limelight it deserved in the theatre for a really heartfelt take on A Great Big World’s Say Something.

The group’s take on Lorde’s Royals was the other highlight of the show, introducing layers of vocal complexities and dynamic with the weight of five performers on stage, and kindly inviting everyone to sing along.

The arrangements are intricately crafted and performed, it’s just a shame that the majority seemed to be more excited about who was performing rather than what was being performed. When you’re there for the music, that sort of vibe just puts a bit of a dampener on things especially in a beautiful little theatre.

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