Famous a cappella group Pentatonix to perform at a sold-out show at Englert


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In the 24 hours prior to Pentatonix’s audition for season three of NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” the five members had yet to officially meet.

But fame came quickly to the unlikely group, and it wound up winning the season’s competition.

“Surprisingly, we didn’t really run into any problems, but we were taking a big risk,” said Mitch Grassi, the youngest member of the group. “We learned discipline and really became a cohesive group, and we knew that we really needed to focus on the music.”

Now, one year later, Pentatonix has traveled the country in a sold-out tour featuring its spin on top Billboard-chart songs.

The group’s next stop will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St. The show is sold-out.

Pentatonix — named after the most widely recognized five-note Western musical scale — received a spot on “The Sing-Off” because one of the group’s lead vocalists, Scott Hoying, wanted to audition.

The then-freshman at the University of Southern California recruited childhood friends from Texas, Grassi and Kirstie Maldonado.

From there the three set out to find a vocal bass in Southern California, and they came across Avi Kaplan.

A look on YouTube drew them to the beat-boxing sensation Kevin Olusola, and Pentatonix was formed.

Throughout the season of “The Sing-Off,” the group worked on perfecting its sound with many genres of music as inspiration.

“Every week, we thought, ‘This is the day we are going to get voted off,’ because everyone was really talented on the show,” Grassi said. “So winning was pretty unexpected.”

Since the show, the a cappella group has gained a strong fan base, which, Grassi said, he loves to meet on tour.

This performance will be Pentatonix’s first time in Iowa City; it will sing from its début EP, PTX Volume 1, which hit No. 14 on the Billboard Top 200.

“I never would have guessed [the tour] would have sold out, it’s so surreal to me,” Grassi said.
“But it has been absolutely amazing so far, with pretty positive feedback, and we are all so appreciative of that.”

UI senior Jim Kinney, a member of the all-male a cappella group Intersection, said he was a fan of Pentatonix early on in “The Sing-Off.”

“I really love that Pentatonix is a small a cappella group that can still manage difficult and unique arrangements with many harmonic splits,” Kinney said. “It is not easy to create such a beautiful and full sound with so few people, and that really speaks to their musicianship and talent.”

UI senior Abby Noelck, a member of the all-female a cappella group Take Note, said it is always great to see an a cappella group gather a following of fans.

“Pentatonix is unique in the fact that although it’s a mixed group, the girl doesn’t always sing the highest part, which makes it have a really balanced sound,” Noelck said.

While both of these UI a cappella groups strive to be original in their music, they often look at arrangements from Pentatonix and others to help their groups excel.

“Groups such as Pentatonix really show us that it doesn’t take a huge group to make beautiful and interesting music,” Kinney said. “By really listening to each other and feeling the music, we can aspire to sound like more-experienced groups.”

When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington
Admission: $20 in advance, $22 day of show

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