08 May 2013

Pentatonix at the Knitting Factory

7. May 2013 Spokane, WA - The hit A Capella band Pentatonix played a gig at the Knitting Factory with their customary generosity of spirit.  For the three people who have not heard of Pentatonix, I've posted my personal favorite below, which features Kevin “K.O.” Olusola's signature "celloboxing" alongside the wonderfully talented internet sensation Lindsey Sterling.  
For those reader who have never been to the Knitting Factory, it's a wild experience.  Part bar, part intimate performance space, this dark paneled venue feels at once classic with its gallery seating and modern with an SMS-based open forum (which proved a scathing critique of our American education system).

Once Pentatonix (PTX) took the stage, the SMS-forum stopped.  Pentatonix opened with their warm bass beats and thrumming energy.  Avi Kaplan laid down a bass line that could be felt.  In addition to the classic pieces that won PTX Season 3 of The Sing Off, they sang new covers, including a live version of the above song, that was incredible even without Lindsey Sterling (anathema! I know, I know).  They also served up a slice of their formation with Lady Gaga's "Telephone," which, according to front man Scott Hoying, was the "Wow, this might be the start of something special" moment for the group.  On 4 June 2011, the trio (Scott Hoying, Kirstie Maldonado, and Mitch Grassi) welcomed Avi Kaplan (formerly with Fermota Nowhere) and Kevin Olusola (Original Celloboxer) to their team, thus becoming the Pentatonix.

And if their music isn't enough to leave you wondering what the heck you've done with your life lately, their biographies certainly will.  Kevin graduated pre-med from Yale University, speaks fluent Chinese, and is by all accounts hilarious (oh, he also soloed at Carnegie Hall on both Cello and Saxophone).  Avi is a master of Mongolian Overtone Singing, a technique which allows him to sing two notes at once - a skill that gave this five person group a serious edge over the competition.  The three core members (Scott, Mitch, and Kirstie) all grew up in Arlington, TX (don't say Texas never did anything for you) and can carve up tri-part harmonies with ease.

They closed out the sparkling night with a serenade to one lucky audience member, Melina, who responded with "Hell, yeah" to being sung to.  A mock heroic rendition of "Let's Get It On" ensued.  Avi then unveiled his new original piece "Peaceful World."  A piece that took the warm tones of Pentatonix and drenched them in heavy rain to create a mist of hope.

Their encore performance of Florence + The Machine's "Dog Days are Over" was a striking competitor even for the talented Ms. Florence Welch.  Then PTX topped that with another encore, this time of Fun's "We are Young" which got the whole audience singing.

In sum, PTX is a band you need to see to really believe, and the Knitting Factory's full bar was simply a lovely addition.
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