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Concert review: Pentatonix brings stunning a cappella performance to Columbus

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Pentatonix, the sensational a cappella group that took the world by storm after winning the third season of “The Sing-Off,” came to Columbus to perform at the Schottenstein Center on Sunday night.

The crowd was in an enthusiastic and positive mood even before the group took the stage. They sang along with the stereo and waved flashlights in excitement. With a nearly full Schott, Pentatonix received a warm Ohio welcome when the lights were finally dimmed.

Pentatonix started off the show with a twist. The group’s first appearance was just silhouettes on singer-sized boxes that would be used as major set pieces throughout the show. The show kicked off with one of its newer songs, “Cracked.” The a capella singers were added in Halloween accessories in their costumes, and admitted they had always wanted to do a show around this time of year for that exact reason. Kevin Olusola, the group’s beatboxer, gets bonus points for wearing an Ohio State jersey.

Along with singing several songs from their newest and older albums, Pentatonix sang a handful of covers: a Michael Jackson medley, two of Justin Bieber’s popular songs, Megan Trainor’s “No,” “Gold” by Kiiara and, finally, with special guest Mario Jose, Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

What was most incredible about Pentatonix’s performance was the range of ability. Avi Kaplan, the group’s bass singer, stunned the crowd with his insanely low vocals. A few songs later, the audience got to hear the exact opposite end of the scale, hearing Mitchell Grassi’s equally insane high vocals. Olusola pulled out a cello — the only instrument used during the performance — for a few songs and showed off his multitasking skills, playing while simultaneously beatboxing. Scott Hoying sang a song entirely in French, and, along with Kirstin Maldonado, led many of the songs for the evening. The group worked together seamlessly, and made a point to switch up where they stood and who lead the song so that all the members had equal time front and center.

During their time center stage, each of the group members commented on how much they personally loved Columbus’s crowd.

“I have to tell you a secret — you are my favorite crowd so far,” Kaplan announced between songs.

There’s something of a trend appearing here — visiting artists really seem to love coming to Ohio. Not to mention that “O-H!” is almost always called out at least once. This concert was no exception.

However, Pentatonix went beyond the “O-H” and selfies with the crowd. Part of what made the concert so fun and memorable was how involved with the crowd the group was. During “Misbehavin’” the group members each picked one audience member to actually come up on stage and sing with them, all sitting in beanbag chairs together like old friends. The group also played videos of its fans singing along with them for the song “New Year’s Day,” showing how much their fans mean to them.

Everything considered, the best was still saved for last. For the encore, the group put down the mics and gathered around a single light, politely asking for audience members to be quiet so people could hear. Pentatonix then proceeded to sing an unplugged version of “Light in the Hallway,” a song similar to a lullaby, to an absolutely silent arena. The arena was silently in awe for three minutes. The result was surreal, everyone holding up phone flashlights like stars and listening in perfect silence to five voices singing around a small light resembling a candle.

Of course, the group would not leave their audience without an upbeat ending. The final song, “Sing,” caused an almost instantaneous 180-degree change of energy in the room, and ended the concert with confetti covering the crowd and leaving people feeling energized and satisfied.

If a cappella is considered the epitome of singing, then Pentatonix is the epitome of a cappella.

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