Monthly Archives: June 2015

PENTATONIX UPDATE: SUPERFRUIT-INESS, PENTATODRIX, ON MY WAY HOME DOCUMENTARY, AND “EVOLUTION OF MICHAEL JACKSON”

While Pentatonix was on the Asian leg of its On My Way Home Tour, they still maintained their prominence online, what with consistent weekly antics from the Superfruit duo of Scott and Mitch, but there are other things that are abuzz, too.

Let’s start with Superfruit.  Prior to departing for their Asian tour, Superfruit posted a video featuring the duo in drag, with the help of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 4 contender Willam Belli.  The results were fabulous with Scott looking like a fabulous, angular model, and Mitch resembling a cross between Lea Michele and Penelope Cruz.  World, meet Deb and Lulu!

Scott and Mitch then got inspired to reinvent 12 hip-hop numbers as Broadway songs, to buzzworthy results.    I like how Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” sounded perky with their twist, ILoveMakkonen’s “Tuesday” sounded sprightly and bright, O.T. Genasis’ “Coco” turned into a dramatic piece, Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” sounding like a good fit for Les Miserables, Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” given a flamenco-esque treatment, Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” sounding like a 1950s ditty, Nicki Minaj’s “Pills & Potions” turned into a wistful ballad, along with Drake’s “Just Hold On We’re Goin’ Home”, and finally giving Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” a lilting melody.  They also covered Jamie Foxx and T-Pain’s “Blame it on the Alcohol”, which got a tweet of approval from T-Pain.

Todrick Hall actually goes a very long way with Pentatonix besides the two collaborations he did with them, going all the way back when the core trio were in Arlington, Texas.  So, when he did a parody tribute of them (with a medley of two medleys, the Swedish House Mafia and Daft Punk medleys), it’s inevitable there are in-jokes thrown in for good measure.  He nailed their tics very well–Kirstie’s side-mouth singing, Scott’s height and proclivity for melisma, Avi’s body rolls, Kevin’s beatboxing tics, and most especially, Mitch’s queen-iness, which got pretty extreme coverage during the Daft Punk portion of the medley.  The only thing that Scott and Mitch noted that they would never do, as they reacted to the video (due to fan clamoring) is Mitch uttering “Toots subscribes-ies”.  There were some watchers who weren’t aware of Todd’s deep connection with the group and thought he was throwing shade at them.  But Pentatonix immediately aired their nod of approval, so all is good, and it can be enjoyed as it is–a very creative and amusing treat.

Immediately after their tour, they then proceed to promote their On My Way Home documentary.  It focused mainly on their North American leg of the tour of the same name, but it touches on where they came from, where they are at this point, and their ambition to have an album of all original music.  Admittedly I have not yet purchased the video on Vimeo, but once I have my budget in order, I’ll purchase it, and I know I’ll enjoy it.

But while we wait for their new all-originals album, the group gave us another staggering video treat–the “Evolution of Michael Jackson”.  Though I might quibble that they didn’t include “Scream”, and his last album “Invincible” (like “Butterflies” and “Your Rock My World”), well it’s still a very comprehensive overview focusing on Michael’s truly best moments.  It’s not strictly chronological as they placed 1983’s “P.Y.T” after 1987’s “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, and 1995’s “You Are Not Alone” was placed as a counterpoint while they were singing 1992’s “Heal the World” before launching into “Will You Be There” from the same album, but I suppose it’s more of an arrangement sense that is why they didn’t strictly follow chronology.  I also quibble a bit that Scott sounded a bit winded in “Beat It”, but that’s just a minor note I’ll make in an otherwise A+ masterclass performance.  My favorite moments were Kirstie’s lead parts in singing “I Want You Back”, “ABC”, “Billie Jean” (though one might quibble it doesn’t quite make sense for a girl to sing that song considering the subject matter–but then again, hearing Candice Glover and Malaya Watson cover Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” in American Idol without changing the gender made me accept hearing Kirstie sing this classic better) and “Black and White”, Avi’s lead parts in “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” and “Dirty Diana”, and Kevin’s singing in “The Way You Make Me Feel”.

Well, I suppose the next time we’ll hear from Pentatonix, it will be their all-originals album.  I’m looking forward to hear it.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

PENTATONIX LIVE IN MANILA: AN ECSTATIC PTXPERIENCE

Panoramic view from Pentatonix’s perspective (image courtesy of Pentatonix)

Though I’m reeling from a high after attending the Pentatonix concert, I have to begin this blog on a somber note.  Originally, the Manila concert was slated to be held on Friday, 05 June, but with an additional concert date in Jakarta, Indonesia for 04 June, they moved the schedule of this concert to Saturday, 06 June, and added a date the following day at the Waterfront Cebu.  It so happens that the date of the concert was also the first anniversary of my brother’s death.

After my night shift ended that Saturday morning, I went straight home so I can join my family to commemorate my brother’s passing.  We all trooped to Christ the King where my brother’s remains were buried, and we dedicated a full rosary and a whole litany of the prayers of the dead for him.  After that, we went to Buffet 101 in Robinson’s Magnolia for lunch where we were joined by one my brother’s best friends and reminisce about him.  It was a sumptuous feast, and it was nice trading stories about him to keep his memory alive.

On our way home after the lunch, I took a nap in the car, and when we were near our house, an argument erupted–because my dad objected to my sister’s plans to visit a sick friend in Las Piñas (because it’s rather far from where we live and he’s not familiar with the place, and he worried about her safety even if my sister assured him she’ll be taking precautions and she wouldn’t need my dad to drive her there as she’ll be taking a cab) and the fact that I’ll be attending this concert  despite the fact that I barely had sleep.  Sure I was recovering from a cold, but I’ve had encountered these situations before and I managed to get by even with three-hours’ sleep previously and nothing’s going to stop me from seeing my favorite group.  When we were finally at home at 2:30 PM, I went straight to bed to sleep and recuperate as much as I could.

I woke up like clockwork at 5;45 PM, and I quickly freshened up and prepared myself.  Around this hour, I felt that it might be a challenge to get a cab from my place to the Araneta Coliseum, but since the Araneta Coliseum was accessible by LRT (it will take two rides, one the LRT-1 line along Taft, then connect at the Doroteo Jose station to take the LRT-2 from Recto), I took that path.  The LRT-1 ride was a bit of a sardine experience as even on a Saturday, it could be overcrowded, but it was a relief after I disembarked at Doroteo Jose and walked to take the LRT-2 from Recto to Cubao, there was seating room, so that second leg was a breeze.

I made it to the venue at 7:00 PM, and I entered the red gate (where those with Patron and VIP seats enter) and found my seat was pretty ideal–a center seat that is pretty close to the stage (Row 9).  I scoured around and by 7:45 I noticed the Coliseum was at full capacity–I saw all sections all filled up, including the bleachers.  I was mightily pleased at what I saw.  Though the Binibining Pilipinas coronation night does draw a significant crowd, there would be some empty sections, unlike in this concert which was filled to full capacity.

Without advanced announcement (as most would expect in concert events), at 8 PM sharp the Coliseum lights dimmed to indicate the concert was about to begin–and the crowd roared in delight in anticipation.  The screams escalated as the five members entered the stage, and the screams turned into a sing-along as the group launched into their cover of Ariana Grande’s “Problem”.  The energy and enthusiasm of the audience (including myself) never let up even up to the very end.

Now, let me feature some highlights, observations and new covers featured in this concert tour.

They only have one outright new cover, which they sang as they went off the stage to shake hands with the fans–the Rihanna / Kanye West / Paul McCartney (with uncredited backup vocals from the 1990s trio Wilson Phillips) hit “Four Five Seconds”.  It’s a lovely lark, but the highlight was the last verse prior to the final chorus, where we get to hear Kevin sing with Avi in a duet and then blend their voices–I love it when I get to hear these fresh combinations.

The other newer covers either serve as intros for one of their concert staples, or as part of a medley to one of their originals.  The Mark Ronson / Bruno Mars mega-smash “Uptown Funk” served as their intro to their cover to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”, and you know there will always be a “chair girl” they serenade to–in this case, Eve Riza Katalbas was the lucky chair girl.

 

For their cover of Imogen Heap’s “Aha!”, Avi, Mitch, Kirstie, and Scott went on what they dub as their opera intro (this was the section after Kevin’s cello sequence and their cover of Stromae’s “Papaoutai” so in this section Keven was away to set his cello aside before joining in for “Aha!”).  It was a nice nod to a cappella’s classical roots and it does make a good segue to “Aha!”.  I wish I know the name of that piece…

Then there’s their cover of Ariana Grande’s “Break Free”, which they fused it as a medley with their original song, “See-Thru”.  It’s a great mash-up, but obviously the Filipino audience sang the Ariana Grande song with lustier gusto (though we also sang along to the “See-Thru” part, too).

Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” is also a chief concert staple, as this was the first song they ever performed as a group, but I have to note they put a nice little twist on the “Eh-eh-eh-eh” hook as unlike in previous versions, they slowed it down to a chilled out reggae groove.  See if you can spot it and compare it with the version on their previous tours.

Speaking of the “cello” portion of the concert, I observed Kevin’s cello seemed different as it was trotted in–it looked like an outline of a cello instead of the usual gigantic wooden instrument you would think of–I suppose it’s for easier transport (especially for a lengthy tour) and it probably is electric for better amplification.  I wonder if Kevin has a nickname for this cello?  Is it also “Beyonce”, or another name?

Of course the climax of the concert was “On My Way Home”, when the audience is divided into three sections to sing the differing parts of the chorus.  I was in the center section so I was “Team Mitch”. (“Team Scott” was to my right and “Team Kirstie” was to my left).  We Filipinos followed them and sang with them with aplomb–this is a such a terrific song, you know.

After that number, of course the audience demanded an encore, and after chants of “PTX” and “Encore”, we then sang the chorus of “On My Way Home” before they returned to the stage.  They then treated us with their original song “That’s Christmas to Me” where Scott instructed us to be silent so they can perform the song without microphones.  This was the only moment where the we the audience were not our enthusiastic energetic selves as we obediently complied to Scott’s request.  It was a beautiful moment, and their voices were heard loud enough even across the bleachers, so after they’re done we of course gave our enthusiastic ovation.

As their finale, of course we need to hear their Grammy-winning “Daft Punk” medley.  As expected, this masterpiece is terrific (and yes, the audience sang along to it) and is a perfect way to leave the audience in a high that lasted for days.

It was 90 minutes of my life totally well spent and well worth the VIP admission.  I of course would want more, but we all know how constantly singing for almost 90 minutes non-stop is a gargantuan task and they do need to rest for all their gigs to come.  I lingered in the Coliseum a bit to post my pics on Facebook before I hailed a cab home, and had one of my most peaceful and blissful sleeps in ages.  This was a concert experience that I will forever remember for the ecstatic joy it brought me.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH