No strictly vocal act sounds more ecstatic in triumph than Pentatonix, the Texas-based winners of The Sing-Off's third season that sold out Union Transfer on Monday. Euphoric best describes the joyful, self-described "futuristic a cappella" quintet who performed before a wildly enthusiastic Philly audience.
Individually, smooth baritone Scott Hoying, ace alto Kristie Maldonado, high-pitched Mitch Grassi, resonant bass singer Avi Kaplan, and beat-boxer Kevin Olusola were swell during solos. In particular, Kaplan's fluid low notes and Olusola's arsenal of percussive tones, and their rhythmic clicks, whirrs, bleats, and screeches, were delicious.
This wasn't your granddad's doo-wop, though there was sweet street-corner serenading heard throughout. Slick, aggressive vocalese coos and scats made the group's jazzy cover of Usher's "OMG" pop in a way that would have made Lambert, Hendricks & Ross roar with approval. The sputtering engine noises and mechanical oh-ah-ohs of the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" worked in tandem with their robot-dance choreography.
Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild" took on a trip-hop feel with a Middle Eastern swerve to its vocal melody. And the group's version of Florence and the Machine's nagging "Dog Days Are Over" took a warmly emotive turn.
Happily, Pentatonix even had equally energetic, cool and corny originals ("Show You How to Love") to go with their covers, so that on some tunes, there was no need to compare different takes and decide whose version of the hits were better.