Pentatonix bring acapella to the masses

Get the latest from Beat


Pentatonix bring acapella to the masses

Words by Ben Lamb

It’s a school night here in Melbourne, but that hasn’t stopped the family-friendly Pentatonix filling the Margaret Court Arena with a variety of families, friends, couples, and everyone in between.

The night’s proceedings kicked off with Bella Taylor Smith, best known for winning the hit reality show The Voice, back in 2021. The decision to get her to support being the perfect choice, her friendly nature helping her find many new fans in the audience. Her voice filled the arena phenomenally, a highlight being her cover of Beyonce’s version of Ave Maria. Performing with just her husband playing an acoustic guitar, her voice managed to solve any gaps left by a lack of instrumentation.

Then after a short break, Pentatonix hit the stage, and it’s immediately clear that they are a well-oiled machine. Now in the industry for just over a decade, they’re experts in giving the audience exactly what they want. They kicked off their 90-minute set with their 2015 hit Sing, an uplifting track that got the audience moving and ready for the show ahead.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

The first half of the set features a selection of their original music, which doesn’t need to be recognised to be enjoyed, their acapella prowess being enough to be engaged in the music. You’d also think that acapella may not fill an arena very well, but the perfect four-part harmonies were just as good as a band, you wouldn’t be blamed for forgetting you’re listening to voices. The biggest crowd reaction came with their medley of songs from The Lucky Ones, their 2021 album that found attention in many corners around the world.

The first showstopping moment came with their cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, the first time there was absolute silence among the thousands of people in the arena. Separating the songs was some high-quality audience interaction, often led by member Scott Hoying, who gave the banter more of a personal touch, moving past the pandering often left for shows like this.

A crowd highlight was a Tik Tok filmed with the audience, including Bella Taylor Smith, once again, giving the show a personal touch, the audience felt like they were part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Each member had their time to shine, with a notable moment coming from Kevin Olusola, the group’s beatboxer, who brought his cello out on stage and melded the worlds together, with something called ‘celloboxing’ – the skill that brought him to the group. He performed three classical pieces on the cello while beatboxing, which cued many gasps of awe among the crowd.

Things then turned down, with their cover of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s Shallow, followed by their cover of Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal, the song that featured in one of their first viral videos.

The slower songs were then put aside, and the energy kept building from this point, with Olusola and bass vocalist Matt Sallee hitting the stage for a medley of cover songs, marking one of the first times all the audience were up on their feet, and singing along to tracks like Living on A Prayer, This is How You Do It and Don’t Stop Believing, among much more.

The rest of the group then returned for a medley of 90s covers, continuing the party vibes brought on by Sallee and Olusola, with tracks like Everytime We Touch, Boom Boom Boom Boom, and Believe, once again, getting the audience up on their feet and singing along to every word.

The main set then closed with their hauntingly beautiful cover of Hallelujah, you’d be hard pressed to find a dry eye among the audience.

But the show wasn’t over, with the five-piece hitting the stage for a final two encores, first, their cover of My Heart With You by The Rescues, which involved the group putting down their microphones and singing into the arena, an experience that can probably only come about with an acapella group like Pentatonix.

The show came to a close with a huge cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, guitar solos and all, leaving us all with ambitions to get out there and start an acapella group.

Keep up to date with the latest Pentatonix tour dates here.