About a year ago one of those a capella singing YouTube sensations appeared on my Facebook timeline via one of my friends. It was Pentatonix. I liked the video, but never heard of them, and curiously clicked on to watch another video. Taken back by the amount of views they’d collected, I clicked on to their website and surprisingly saw a European tour that would also take them to a really good venue, Paradiso in Amsterdam… twice. Both sold out. “Who are they?!” I thought and then actually kind of forgot about them until this year. I saw an advert popup on my timeline about a new tour by them. Apparently they had grown even bigger and were now performing at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, for which they had to add an extra show, because the first one was sold out. This time I got tickets.
I didn’t really know what to expect, but I just knew I had to see it for myself. This group looked like they’d done it all on their own. Without great (regular) media support out here they managed to get an audience online and fill great venues in Amsterdam. It’s like the dream within a dream come true. Not just the dream of breaking through and having success as an artist, but having done it “the new way”. This how the music business works nowadays. But was a cappella singing enough to entertain me for a whole show. Were they really going to be that good?!
No Music Required
It was rather strange seeing a stage without a band, but a lot of other regular elements from a live performance were there. A big screen was used to show some visuals and recreate some of the YouTube video feel (with the cut up screens showing each member of the group separately). A grand staircase always does well on stage, so that was present as well and, even though they did have a few pre-rehearsed dance moves, it would be giving them too much credit to call them dance routines. Nope, the focus was well directed towards what works for them, the vocal harmonies on a beat box foundation. And too right too, because it’s a solid foundation Pentatonix have build. Vocally they deliver, as you would expect.
Evolution Of Everything Music
In an hour and a half you get a mix of new arrangements of songs, as-is covers, original material and a few medleys: The Evolution of Destiny’s Child/Beyonce and the Evolution Of Music. Both medleys are very quick, which works well for YouTube, but they didn’t need the rush for a live performance. As the show pretty much kicked off with the Beyonce medley it gave me a moment of doubt, wondering if the whole show would be like that. It’s pretty hard getting into something when a different song is introduced to you pretty much with every other line. Luckily they anticipated that and made a pretty well balanced set list.
5 Strong Vocalists
They also ease you into their individual vocal capabilities. The surprises of extremely high notes, extremely low notes and even some cello playing combined with beat boxing, are neatly divided over the show, so you there are peaks that will constantly keep you interested. There’s a lot of interaction with the audience, but it would’ve been nice to have a camera follow them around when they actually entered the audience themselves. You didn’t see this happening on the screen on stage and so I was surprised by the group passing me by all of a sudden. Damn… didn’t have my phone in my hand then to take a picture…
Covers And Originals
Covers that were slightly rearranged into their own version were easy enough to get into and that also counts for the only three original songs they performed. All together, the conclusion is that there are some concerts you don’t need a band for. An hour and a half is enough time for an act like that to entertain you and I think Pentatonix did very well at it. I would recommend you seeing them if you get a chance. They’ll be touring the US with Kelly Clarkson later in the year, so you get two great artists for the price of one. I can’t wait to see what happens with Pentatonix next. You would almost expect them to play the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam next year (an even bigger venue), but I do have to admit, I wouldn’t go to see them again. Last night’s concert did make me feel like I’d seen everything Pentatonix has to offer, but who knows…. Maybe they have some surprises up their sleeves.